Researchers at UCSF and UC Berkeley have made groundbreaking strides in the field of speech neuroprosthetics, achieving more natural speech decoding for individuals who are unable to speak due to paralysis. A woman, rendered speechless by a stroke, could communicate and express emotions through a digital avatar, thanks to an AI-powered implantable device. This innovation stemmed from a decade of research aimed at understanding brain functions associated with speech and translating these into engineering solutions for paralyzed individuals. The project's success was marked by the decoding of full words and over 1,000 words into a spelling interface, akin to a sophisticated Siri. The avatar not only speaks but also shows facial expressions, adding a dimension of embodiment for the user. The researchers aim to enhance the technology for everyday use, reduce latency for real-time interaction, and create a standalone device. This synergy between neuroengineering and AI holds promise for transforming communication for the paralyzed, creating a voice where there was silence.
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