Ok this news is indeed wonderful, but it makes me very depressed that Christopher Reeves isn’t around anymore because it might have made his life a deal easier perhaps. The company behind the breakthrough wheelchair is Ambient developing the technology at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The box works in a noninvasive way, by intercepting signals being sent from the brain to their voicebox. Even when no sound is actually produced.
The system will work as long as the person still can work their larynx, even if they can’t control it well enough for understandable speech due to loss of muscle coordination. The wheelchair could help people with spinal injuries or other neurological problems like cerebral palsy or motor neurone disease. It’s not going to perform miracles like make the person able to play a game of Titleist golf but it could definitly improve their lives and mobility. The larynx control system named Audeo was developed at the University of Illinois by the 2 who together founded Ambient.
The entire system works via a sensor filled neckband easily hidden below a collar which eavesdrops on electrical impulses sent to the larynx muscles. Then relaying the signals via an encrypted wireless signal to a nearby mobile computer processor. And matches those “words” if you can call them to pre-recorded “words” that were determined during training exercises.
What’s really interested is the fact that they believe this can go much further, into the realm of even restoring speech. By translating commands sent by the brain to the larynx even if they can’t be produced to a computer and then output via speaker. And the design may even have it’s place in space with the group looking at the possibilities of using it in space suits. The issue with brain control in the past has been that we’ve been unable to fully read works and phrases directly from the brain, but via talking muscle signals seems a lot easier and doable.