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Paralyzed man sends mind control tweet for the first time

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Send a tweet without pressing a computer key or saying anything? This works out! A paralyzed Australian was the first to share a mind-controlled tweet with the help of an implant.

30.12.2021, 05:1830.12.2021, 12:37

After a chip was implanted in his brain, a paralyzed man posted a tweet for the first time using only his thoughts.

“Hello World! Short tweet. Monumental progress. “

The man is the 62-year-old Australian Philip O’Keefe who suffers from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). ALS is an incurable disease of the motor nervous system, which leads to muscle weakness, muscle wasting and muscle paralysis. The disease is severe and usually fatal within three to five years.

O’Keefe’s health deteriorated so much in April 2020 that he was no longer able to work or do things independently. At that time, a so-called stentrode device was implanted into him. The technology was developed by the neurotech startup company Synchron.

To avoid invasive brain surgery, the implant was inserted through a jugular vein. Since then, he has been able to exchange ideas with family and friends via e-mail, as well as play simple computer games such as solitaire.

O’Keefe sent the tweet on December 23rd via the Twitter account of synchronizing CEO Thomas Oxley, who announced the historic moment in advance:

O’Keefe then shared seven tweets – including this one:

In a press release from Synchron, O’Keefe is impressed with this technology, which has given him back some independence:

“The system is amazing, it’s like learning to ride a bike – it takes practice, but once it works it feels very natural. Now all I have to do is think about where to click on something on the computer and I can write e-mails, do banking, shop and send messages to the world on Twitter. “

Specifically, the technology works like this: When O’Keefe wants to open a document or click on a link on the screen, he has to imagine tapping his left ankle. This brain activity is recorded by the sensors in the implant, which is located in a blood vessel in the brain. Devices in his chest convert these signals into a mouse click or zoom on the screen with the help of machine learning software.

The Stentrode device allows direct communication between the human brain and the computer without having to type or speak anything.Bild: Journal of Neurointerventional Surgery

So far, the implant has only been used in a small test on three people. Synchron plans to carry out the first major study with BCI (brain computer interface) next year.

In addition to Synchron, Elon Musk’s company is also working with BCI technologies, which is also planning human experiments for the coming year. According to Musk, the ultimate goal of this technology should be to keep up with advanced artificial intelligence. (saw)

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Send a tweet without pressing a computer key or saying anything? This works out! A paralyzed Australian was the first to share a mind-controlled tweet with the help of an implant.

After a chip was implanted in his brain, a paralyzed man posted a tweet for the first time using only his thoughts.

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