June 25, 2012
iBrain Being Developed For Stephen Hawking
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com
Scientists are working on a project to "hack" into the brain of the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
Hawking is working with scientists at Stanford University to develop the iBrain, which is a tool that could be used to pick up brain waves and communicate with them through a computer.
The famous physicist has motor neuron disease and lost the ability to be able to speak nearly 30 years ago.
Hawking currently uses a computer to communicate with people, but his worsening condition is making him lose that ability as well.
The iBrain device being developed by Philip Low, a professor at Stanford, is a brain scanner that measures electrical activity.
"We'd like to find a way to bypass his body, pretty much hack his brain," Low said in a statement.
The iBrain researchers said they plan to unveil their latest results at a conference in Cambridge next month, possibly even demonstrating the technology on Hawking.
Hawking and Low said in a press release for the conference that the physicists learned to create patterns of impulses by imaging moving his hands and limbs.
As the technology becomes more advanced, it could recognize more sophisticated brain activity and turn it into words.
"This is very exciting for us because it allows us to have a window into the brain. We're building technology that will allow humanity to have access to the human brain for the first time," Low said in a press release.
"The emergence of such biomarkers opens the possibility to link intended movements to a library of words and convert them into speech, thus providing motor neuron sufferers with communication tools more dependent on the brain than on the body."
The device has the potential to help doctors prescribe the correct levels of medication based on a person's brainwave responses.
Low said the iBrain could be used to help treat sleep disorders, depression and even autism.