NASA Ames Research Center has developed a system that can gather nerve signals from the periglottic region, which are produced by a silently reading human and translate them, through a computer program, into words:
“What is analyzed is silent, or subauditory, speech, such as when a person silently reads or talks to himself,” said Chuck Jorgensen, a scientist whose team is developing silent, subvocal speech recognition at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “Biological signals arise when reading or speaking to oneself with or without actual lip or facial movement,” Jorgensen explained.
“A person using the subvocal system thinks of phrases and talks to himself so quietly, it cannot be heard, but the tongue and vocal cords do receive speech signals from the brain,” Jorgensen said.
In their first experiment, scientists ‘trained’ special software to recognize six words and 10 digits that the researchers repeated subvocally. Initial word recognition results were an average of 92 percent accurate. The first subvocal words the system ‘learned’ were ‘stop,’ ‘go,’ ‘left,’ ‘right,’ ‘alpha’ and ‘omega,’ and the digits ‘zero’ through ‘nine.’ Silently speaking these words, scientists conducted simple searches on the Internet by using a number chart representing the alphabet to control a Web browser program.
“We took the alphabet and put it into a matrix — like a calendar. We numbered the columns and rows, and we could identify each letter with a pair of single-digit numbers,” Jorgensen said. “So we silently spelled out ‘NASA’ and then submitted it to a well-known Web search engine. We electronically numbered the Web pages that came up as search results. We used the numbers again to choose Web pages to examine. This proved we could browse the Web without touching a keyboard,” Jorgensen explained.
Scientists are testing new, ‘noncontact’ sensors that can read muscle signals even through a layer of clothing.
Cool. Could this system become useful in the future for patients suffering from aphasia? And what type of aphasia could be helped? Any neurologists in the audience?
The press release…
(hat tip: Engadget)