Researchers from the BrainGate consortium have, for the first time, shown that a brain-computer interface (BCI) can be used by people with paralysis to control a commercial tablet computer. A small device implanted in the motor cortex of the patient was able to interpret neural signals and translate these into mouse movement on a tablet.

For patients with paralysis, assistive technologies can be vital tools to regain functionality. Recent research has aimed to create a direct link between such assistive technology and the brain of a user. BCI-based devices have previously been used to operate a tablet for general programs such as web browsing, painting and games. However, the latest work with the team’s BrainGate2 sensors has demonstrated the ability to use an unmodified off-the-shelf tablet device. Participants were able to make use of commercial apps from the Google Play store, even when these were not included in the original trial design (PLOS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0204566).

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