Text input controlled by thought?

In an interesting article in Hplus Magazine entitled ‘By thought alone: Mind over keyboard’, the author describes studies into how we can use the brain’s thoughts to control a keyboard input. The findings indicate that people with electrodes implanted in their brains can learn to type by using thoughts alone. It’s also possible to achieve this without these electrodes by using  an EEG type interface, although speed rates for typing seem to be slow if we take the current findings –

“Tweeting by thought alone is a somewhat slow process using this prototype technology –- we speak at approximately 120 words per minute. But, as with texting, users can improve as they practice using the interface. “I’ve seen people do up to eight characters per minute,” Wilson says.”

Ouch.. that would be a significant downturn in workload!  I can see this form of input being a considerable benefit to people with severe disabilities, however I do wonder what the long term health impacts are of having an electrode implanted in your brain. My guess is that it must surely at this stage be a large unknown. It is, however, an interesting area of research.

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