With the assistance of AI and brain-machine interface, a woman who had lost her ability to speak for 18 years was finally able to speak using her thoughts

Researchers from the University of California utilized brain-machine interface and AI technology to help a woman who had been mute for 18 years due to a stroke to speak again. Whatever she wishes to say, the AI digital human can express it accurately. The tone of this digital human is very similar to the patient’s voice before the injury. Additionally, the AI can automatically adjust the tone and speed of speech based on the patient’s emotional state, making her feel like she is truly speaking.

The researchers implanted 253 electrodes into the patient’s brain, covering all areas related to language. When she wants to speak, these electrodes collect signals sent from the brain and language system, and transmit them to a computer via the brain-machine interface. Then, the researchers continuously trained the AI to recognize these signals until it could decode them accurately.

Unlike traditional speech recognition methods, this AI doesn’t recognize whole words, but learns 39 phonetic phonemes. For instance, to say the word “hello”, four phonemes displayed are required. As long as the AI learns these phonemes, it can respond to any English word. This method not only improves recognition accuracy but also allows the patient to drive the AI digital human to speak at a speed closer to that of a normal person.

To make the conversation more natural, the research team also trained an AI model to recognize signals in the patient’s brain that mobilize facial muscles, driving the digital human to make corresponding expressions, and use speech synthesis algorithms to restore the patient’s original voice. The next step for the research team is to develop a brain-machine interface that doesn’t require physical connections, making it more convenient for patients to use this technology.

If this technology can be realized, countless individuals with speech impairments will be able to communicate freely.