In an effort to provide a voice for people who can’t speak, neuroscientists have designed a device that can transform brain signals into speech.

This technology isn’t yet accurate enough for use outside the lab, although it can synthesize whole sentences that are mostly intelligible. Its creators described their speech-decoding device in a study1 published on 24 April in Nature.

Scientists have previously used artificial intelligence to translate single words2,3, mostly consisting of one syllable, from brain activity, says Chethan Pandarinath, a neuroengineer at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who co-wrote a commentary accompanying the study. “Making the leap from single syllables to sentences is technically quite challenging and is one of the things that makes the current work so impressive,” he says.

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