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F. Willett et al./Nature 2021

Paralyzed person types at record speed—by imagining handwriting

A new approach to brain-computer interface has allowed a paralyzed person to type with unprecedented speed, The Scientist reported yesterday. As Science first reported in 2019, researchers used electrodes implanted in a motor region of the brain to read out letters as a person paralyzed from the neck down imagined writing by hand. Previous systems, where users select on-screen letters by moving a cursor with their minds, have reached speeds up to about 40 characters per minute, but the new approach allowed speeds of up to 90 characters per minute with 94% accuracy, the researchers reported this week in Nature. Future improvements to the setup—such as making it smaller, wireless, and easier to calibrate—could ready it for wider clinical use.

*Correction, 14 May, 4:30 p.m.: A previous version of this story stated that the new approach allowed speeds of up to 90 words per minute. This has been corrected.

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