Video Game Technology Helped A Woman Regain Her Speech

A woman who lost her speech after a stroke is regaining it thanks to video game technology.

Facial animation software company Speech Graphics and researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley have collaborated on a brain-computer interface that can restore communication for paralyzed people.

The team tracked the parts of the woman’s brain responsible for speech and implanted a paper-thin rectangle of 253 electrodes near the surface of that area. The electrodes decoded her brain signals and, through a cable fixed to the implant, transmitted them to computers where AI algorithms were trained to read her brain activity.

The AI learned a vocabulary of over 1,000 words over several weeks, which it then reproduced in audio based on recordings of her own voice pre-stroke.

Speech Graphics created the avatar with its AI-based facial animation tech, usually used for video games like Fortnite. The AI was harnessed to simulate the woman’s individual facial muscles to express certain emotions.

Though this is still a proof of concept, the success of the all-rounded avatar has raised hopes that the technology could soon be able to help many others.