Science

Turning thoughts to speech is not impossible anymore

Those of us who have the ability to speak take it for granted and we rarely think of the people who can’t, for one reason or another. Of course, we can usually communicate with those who can not speak by using sign language or writing. Unfortunately, these are not viable options for those who can’t move their hands either because they are paralised. For this category, there is great news. A group of scientists at the University of California seem to have finally found the way to turn thoughts into speech. Thanks to this, we might be able to finally communicate with people we could have never heard otherwise.

The researchers at the University of California managed to turn thoughts into speech by using a state-of-the-art brain-machine interface that converts brain waves into sound. Into speech, to be more exact.  Naturally, this is the result of long years of research. First, neuroscientists needed to gather information from measured brain activity by placing electrodes on the heads of the participants to the study. After gathering the priceless information, it was fed into a virtual vocal tract. This is an anatomically correct computer simulation that is able to mimic movements of the lips, jaws, tongue, and larynx during speech. After converting the brain waves into these movements, the neuroscientist managed to deliver an impressive end result: sound that resembles human speech enough for it to give the speechless a voice. They managed to turn thoughts into speech in other words.

The great thing about the new technology is that it’s not only able to convert brain waves into simple sounds and words, but it is also able to form complete sentences. This way those who could not communicate in any other way could finally be able to turn their thoughts into speech and make themselves understood. Of course, there still is a long way to go before the technology will become accessible for the masses but at least there is a group of scientists who are working hard to give the speechless back their voices.

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