Recently, Phillip O’ Keefe, a 62 year old from Australia with ALS took over Synchron CEO Thomas Oxley’s twitter and tweeted this:
Phillip sent this tweet by using Synchron’s Brain Computer Interface that can track thoughts and convert them into digital actions – either to communicate with others or perform actions on a computer. This is a crucial accomplishment in the assistive technology field, especially for those who are unable to use their hands for clicking and typing or mouth for voice commands needed to interact with devices.
Phillip received the stentrode, the neural implant that converts thoughts into electric signals in April 2020 following his progressive paralysis caused by ALS which left him unable to perform daily activities. Since then, he has been using this technology to stay in touch with family and continue his business work.
So what is the setup that Phil uses and how does it work?
1. The Node: Consists of a) stentrode placed on top of the motor cortex that converts thoughts into signals and b)an internal receiver transmitter unit place in the chest under the skin. This transmitter records the signals sent by the stentrode and provides wireless transmission to external devices.
2. Axon: The external device that detects raw brain signals and converts them into digital commands that can be recognized by bluetooth devices.
3. Brain.io: The software that uses translated brain activity to control apps and devices.
Watch the following video where Phillip demonstrates how he uses brain.io to operate a computer.
To learn more about this technology, device, training and other details, be sure to read the “Motor neuroprosthesis implanted with neurointerventional surgery improves capacity for activities of daily living tasks in severe paralysis: first in-human experience” paper in the Journal of NeuroIntervention Surgery.