Twitter With Your Brain!


That was the post Adam Wilson made to Twitter by using only his brain.  Wearing a special red cap fitted with electrodes that connected to a computer flashing letters, by concentrating on the letters he wanted, Wilson was able to Twit the small message on the screen in front of him.

What this means for the rest of the world is almost beyond comprehension for those of us that regularly type, text, and click to send messages, visit websites, write emails, etc.  What this means for persons with physical disabilities, who have perfectly functioning brains but ill-functioning bodies, is that they may be able to communicate as easily someday as the rest of us do.  And all it takes is a silly red cap with electrodes.  No cumbersome pointing devices held by the teeth or strapped to the head, or custom keyboards that will take the pounding of a fist because the fingers can’t move.

What is even more surprising and exciting about this breakthrough is that it uses two existing products to do its job.  Twitter, of course, already exists and functions well for many people.  The electrode “brain cap” already exists as well, and is still being fine-tuned for work with computers.  Previous work had been focused on using brain implants to communicate, but this work is 10 years or more from any type of fruition.  Using existing products, Wilson, and his supervisor Justin Williams (both work for the University of Wisconsin) made the link that had not been made before.

This is exciting news for those suffering from debilitating, paralyzing injuries, whose brains are able to function normally in all ways except in the ability to communicate.  Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone suffer from such disabilities.  These types of breaks in technology can really leapfrog researchers ahead in their efforts to bring accessibility to all.