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IVR - Is the Human Brain Now a Keyboard?
July 03, 2012

Is the Human Brain Now a Keyboard?

By Allison Boccamazzo, TMCnet Web Editor

According to a Plum Voice blog detailing a USA Today story, this is certainly true – a Dutch team has indeed developed a way to turn the human brain into a fully functioning keyboard. The Plum blog explains how one of the most advantageous features of hosted IVR systems is that since they rely on speech, they eliminate the need for keyboards. For individuals with physical disabilities, this is a huge benefit and excellent alternative to using a traditional mouse to gain information and navigate systems. While IVR systems are helping to simplify the process of communication between real people, researchers Bettina Sorger, Joel Reightler, Brigitte Dahmen and Rainer Goebel of the Universiteit Maastricht in the Netherlands have decided to take this one step further.

The way this new innovation works is by focusing a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine onto the brain, which integrates complex data-mining techniques to interpret brain signals, which then works to translate these messages into letters. This ultimately allows the user to communicate simply by thinking (imagine something like mentally typing on a keyboard).

One set-back – perhaps expected – with this new technology is that it can take quite a while to be completed. According to the paper, “it takes on average one hour to teach the user how to send the messages and a few moments for the computer to detect and decode the single-letter signals.” Regardless, no one can deny that this development is both groundbreaking and seemingly reliable.

While many new developments seem un-necessary and relatively foolish, many seriously affected or disabled individuals can enjoy serious, life-altering benefits from this advancement. Those suffering from paralysis, brain injuries, strokes, Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS, and other conditions prohibiting or limiting speech will now find a chance to eloquently communicate. The team has even suggested that this new device can help comatose patients communicate.

Clearly this is a huge step in the constantly evolving and growing world of technological advancements, and it’s refreshing to see such a wonderful success story as a result!

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Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

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