New implant allows users to control iPhone & iPad with brain

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2022
A new implant is now in the clinical trial phase, and it grants a user the ability to use their brain to control their iPhone or iPad with their thoughts.

A stentrode | Credit: Synchron
A stentrode | Credit: Synchron


The technology works similarly to other accessibility features, such as alternative switches. However, instead of registering a tap of a foot or a nod of the head, it registers the user's brain waves.

In an article by Semafor, spotted by 9to5Mac, we learn about Rodney Gorham, a retired software salesman in Australia.

Gorham has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a nervous system disease that severely impacts physical function. He's also one of six people using a device called a "Synchron Switch."

Created by Synchron, the Synchron Switch works with an array of sensors inserted, known as the stentrode, into the brain via a blood vessel. The switch itself is controlled wirelessly from the patient's chest.

When Gorham thinks about tapping his foot, his iPad registers it as a finger tap on the screen.

Gorham can control his iPad with his Synchron Switch, allowing him to send single-word text messages.

"We're excited about iOS and Apple products because they're so ubiquitous," said Tom Oxley, Synchron's co-founder, and CEO. "And this would be the first brain switch input into the device."

Synchron is the first company to gain FDA approval, and the technology could be seen as a boon for patients with severe mobility limitations.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    JP234JP234 Posts: 825member
    Is it April 1st already?

    Did you see the episode of "Shark Tank" with the doofus who claimed to have invented an implant like this? It had to be surgically implanted, and every time the battery ran out of recharge, it had to be surgically removed, a new battery installed, and surgically reimplanted. The Sharks laughed him out of the tank. Rightfully so.

    Sure, for a quadriplegic, this is dream tech. For anyone else, hard pass!
    rob53ravnorodom
  • Reply 2 of 16
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,588member
    This looks pretty cool. 
    ravnorodomwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 16
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,093member
    Except in rare circumstances this capability would be disastrous. Show me 10 people who can concentrate consistently on anything to make this do half of what a person can do with their finger or voice. I know I wouldn’t be able to control something like this without messing up 9 out of 10 thoughts. I’m thinking about too many random things all the time for any neuro computer to figure out what’s the most important thing I’m thinking of.
    baconstangmacplusplusravnorodomwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 16
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,588member
    rob53 said:
    Except in rare circumstances this capability would be disastrous. Show me 10 people who can concentrate consistently on anything to make this do half of what a person can do with their finger or voice. I know I wouldn’t be able to control something like this without messing up 9 out of 10 thoughts. I’m thinking about too many random things all the time for any neuro computer to figure out what’s the most important thing I’m thinking of.
    The point being not that this would do half of what someone could do with their finger or their voice. The point being this lets people do something when they CAN’T use their finger or voice. This is not a consumer product any more than Stephan Hawking’s speech computer was. It is for people with severe handicaps, to get them out of their prison. As far as how to use it, that would be training, as it was with SH’s speech computer and any other assistance device.

    It would be interesting to put this on people in comas. There are a lot of reports of people saying they were aware of their surroundings, they just couldn’t move. It would be interesting if this could let them communicate.
    dewmeravnorodomchiabageljoeyAnilu_777ramanpfaffh4y3sflashfan207davmike1
  • Reply 5 of 16
    And with a little tweak, the control can be reversed...
    Although phones are pretty good at controlling people already.


    dewmerobin huber
  • Reply 6 of 16
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,660member
    rob53 said:
    Except in rare circumstances this capability would be disastrous. Show me 10 people who can concentrate consistently on anything to make this do half of what a person can do with their finger or voice. I know I wouldn’t be able to control something like this without messing up 9 out of 10 thoughts. I’m thinking about too many random things all the time for any neuro computer to figure out what’s the most important thing I’m thinking of.

    Very intriguing concept. I imagine the processing logic must be trained to detect the occurrence of a very specific pattern of brain waves that occur in an individual when the individual thinks about performing a physical action. Does every human brain emit the same pattern for the same physical action? I have no idea. I expect there is some degree of variation between different individuals, especially for individuals who have never been able to perform certain actions, like tapping a foot or wiggling a particular finger.

    I don't believe that this system is interpreting human "thoughts" at all. I think it is simply pattern matching waveforms collected in real time against a library of waveform samples that were collected during the training of the logic, when the user was thinking about a very specific action or impulse. Trying to train a system of this type to recognize even a tiny fraction of the possible variety of human thoughts would be a monumental challenge.

    If the waveforms produced for particular thoughts/impulses, like toe taps, are the same for everyone it would be possible to obtain a machine that's pre-configured to recognize a small set of thoughts/impulses. Otherwise, each machine instance would have to be trained to work with its particular user.
    h4y3swatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 16
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,774member
    Was deployed in 1977 in the MiG-31 Firefox.
    bageljoeyMBearblastdoorsurgefilterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 16
    Simply wow!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 16
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 864member
    These days, and for quite a while, if recharging is necessary it’s done via  induction just like MagSafe or Qi: pacemakers have been recharged this way for a long time. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 16
    It is not a thought that produces the change, but a consistent brainwave change. The detected brainwave change results in the signal to the device. Anything that results in such a change will work; no particular “thought” is required. The change occurs and is reinforced by a commensurate change in the device. This is why monkeys and other organisms can be likewise trained. It sounds sensational to say control by thoughts, but that is not what is happening.
    Anilu_777
  • Reply 11 of 16
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,287member
    It's very useful for people who cannot do those things due to paralysis. 

    "Did you see the episode of "Shark Tank" with the doofus who claimed to have invented an implant like this? It had to be surgically implanted, and every time the battery ran out of recharge, it had to be surgically removed, a new battery installed, and surgically reimplanted. The Sharks laughed him out of the tank. Rightfully so."

    I have not seen it but an implant doesn't need a battery if the chip is extremely power efficient and only need a radio transmitter to send power along with data. That's much how cochlear implants work. It provides power and data. 

    Anilu_777ramanpfaffravnorodomh4y3sflashfan207
  • Reply 12 of 16
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,923member
    In communist China, brain implant lets iPad control YOU!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 16
    takeotakeo Posts: 442member
    So if all this is is a switch, there must be other supporting assistive software that it relies upon right? How do you control an entire OS and its Apps with just a switch? Does the interface just give you branching options which you can choose… and you “tap” when it offers the option you want? Like for typing does it have to go through every letter until you “tap” yes and then go on to the next letter etc.?
  • Reply 14 of 16
    Did y'all miss the part where at least one of the people testing this has ALS?  Think Stephen Hawking.  This tech isn't for people who just don't want to touch their phone.  It's for people who cannot control their muscles well enough to operate a phone in a consistently reliable way.

    Oh sure, "someday" there might be wider applications for tech like this, but for now it's for people with few, if any, other options.
    ramanpfaffbaconstangStrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 16
    JP234 said:
    ...every time the battery ran out of recharge, it had to be surgically removed, a new battery installed, and surgically reimplanted.
    Most implants that use power, like pacemakers, get recharged wirelessly by magnetically attaching a coil. Similar to how an AppleWatch charges.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 16 of 16
    eightzero said:
    Was deployed in 1977 in the MiG-31 Firefox.
    1982.

    Subsequently I’m AIRWOLF TV series on episodes “MOFFETT’S GHOST” and then “FORTUNE TELLER”.

    ‘In 20 or 30 years, the way you fly, will be obsolete’.

    Certainly will be interesting to see if it’s indeed recognising specific types of waveform library for specific bodily action, or whether the tech will enhance further with assisted AI contributing.
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