A machine that can read your mind and convert thoughts into speech has been built and tested by scientists.
The creation is being heralded as ‘life-changing’ for those unable to communicate, such as stroke victims.
The pioneering system combines the power of speech synthesisers and AI (artificial intelligence) to turn brain activity into intelligible sentences.
It is based on the same technology used by Amazon Echo and Apple Siri.
It offers hope of patients paralysed after a stroke or accident communicating with friends and loved ones – despite being unable to speak.
Electrical engineering Professor Dr Nima Mesgarani at Columbia University, New York, hopes it will be life changing for thousands of stricken individuals.
He said: ‘Our voices help connect us to our friends, family and the world around us, which is why losing the power of one’s voice due to injury or disease is so devastating.
‘With today’s study, we have a potential way to restore that power.
‘We’ve shown that, with the right technology, these people’s thoughts could be decoded and understood by any listener.’
Ultimately, he hoped their system could be part of an implant, similar to those worn by some epilepsy patients, that translates the wearer’s thoughts directly into words.
Added Professor Mesgarani: ‘In this scenario, if the wearer thinks ‘I need a glass of water,’ our system could take the brain signals generated by that thought, and turn them into synthesised, verbal speech.
‘This would be a game changer.