Evolution has always been a natural process. However, humans have always taken the help of technology in order to speed up this process. Making use of one of the best tools known to mankind, “Imagination”, humans have always tried to come up with new ways to overcome the flaws in our species. Technological advances have not only improved the life expectancy of an average human being but are now also being used to enhance the experience for this additional life span.
Earlier this year, a team led by Columbia University successfully used a completely different approach to turn brain activity into audible language. This latest discovery gives immense hope to people who have lost their voice, more so to people who have lost their voice through paralysis and conditions such as throat cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s disease. Their method reconstructed one-syllable words based directly on the brain’s perception of spoken sounds lifted from the human auditory cortex. Synthetic speech produced this way could be understood 75% of the time. A remarkable feat given the odds. Keep in mind, watching the great scientist Stephen Hawking communicate with the rest of the world from his wheel chair with the help of a speech synthesizer made especially for him was nothing more than science fiction just a few decades ago.
The next test will be to determine whether someone who cannot speak could learn to use the system without being able to train it with their own voice. Giving someone the ability to be able to communicate normally without any extra effort after they’ve lost it to a disease or injury is nothing short of a miracle. Here’s hoping that the team can replicate the test results in clinical trials and make this technology available to the masses.