From thoughts to speech

An implant, which synthesizes speech from thoughts

Speech is a multi-stage process, in which conversion of thoughts into sounds (spoken words) takes place. Fueled by speech organs like tongue, jaw, lips, and vocal cords, the process also involves pulmonary system. Above all, the pressure form lungs create vibrations (phonation) in the larynx, which is then converted into different languages by vocal tract and mouth.

Problem and Solution

But there are many factors which hinder this process of speech, notably:

  • diseases of motor neurone
  • injuries to brain
  • cancers affecting speech system
  • some from of stroke

A team of researchers from University of California have developed a brain implant technology that could solve the above listed problems.

But how?

The working of this new technology consists of two stages:

  • The first stage involves collecting brain signals responsible for movements of speech organs such lips, tongue, jaw and larynx using an implanted electrode.
  • The stimulation of mouth and throat movement according to the received brain signals using AI computing, is the second stage.

The initial tests of this prototype is showing promising results. Since the technology is in the initial stage, the voice regeneration is not perfect.

Journal Reference: Nature: DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1119-1

Written by M R Raghul

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