Paralyzed man with brain chip posts ‘first direct-thought’ tweet — Analysis

According to a company implanting neural interfaces in brains, a person with a nerve system disorder that renders him motionless is able to simply think of a way that the patient can share a social media post.

A 62-year-old man in Australia diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – a disease that causes paralysis – is now able to communicate thoughts with others with no muscle activity involved. On Thursday, he published a post on social media “Use only direct thinking,” the company that enabled him to do so, Synchron, announced.

Just by having the thought of it, I made this tweet” – the tweet read, said to be posted by Philip O’Keefe to the account of Synchron CEO Thomas Oxley.

The ‘first direct-thought tweet’ was created wirelessly from O’Keefe’s brain, according to the company. Following progressive paralysis caused by ALS, the man had a brain computer interface called ‘Stentrode’ installed last year. The implant, “it was designed to allow patients to wirelessly manage digital devices via thought,” was inserted via the jugular vein to avoid drilling into the skull.

Now I think about the places on my computer that I would like to click. I can now email, shop, bank and message the rest of the world using Twitter,” the company cited O’Keefe as saying – or thinking. According to him, the “Incredible” system takes practice, just like learning to ride a bike, “but once you’re rolling, it becomes natural.”

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Synchron says that the man is now capable of engaging in independent activities, and is able to reconnect with the outside world, in spite of his paralysis. It also claims it will continue to develop the brain computer interface for an in-human experiment in the US in 2013.

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