Researchers at the GrapheneX-UTS Human-centric Artificial Intelligence Centre (University of Technology Sydney (UTS)) have developed a noteworthy system capable of decoding silent thoughts and converting them into written text. This technology has potential applications in aiding communication for individuals unable to speak due to conditions like stroke or paralysis and enabling improved interaction between humans and machines.

Presented as a spotlight paper at the NeurIPS conference in New Orleans, the research team introduces a portable and non-invasive system. The team at the GrapheneX-UTS HAI Centre collaborated with members from the UTS Faculty of Engineering and IT to create a method that translates brain signals into textual content without invasive procedures.

During the study, participants silently read text passages while wearing a specialized cap equipped with electrodes to record electrical brain activity through an electroencephalogram (EEG). The captured EEG data was processed using an AI model named DeWave, which was developed by the researchers and translates these brain signals into understandable words and sentences.

Researchers emphasized the significance of this innovation in directly converting raw EEG waves into language, highlighting the integration of discrete encoding techniques into the brain-to-text translation process. This approach opens new possibilities in the realms of neuroscience and AI.

Unlike earlier technologies requiring invasive procedures like brain implants or MRI machine usage, the team’s system offers a non-intrusive and practical alternative. Importantly, it does not rely on eye-tracking, making it potentially more adaptable for everyday use.

The study involved 29 participants, ensuring a higher level of robustness and adaptability compared to past studies limited to one or two individuals. Although using a cap to collect EEG signals introduces noise, the study reported top-notch performance in EEG translation, surpassing prior benchmarks.

The team highlighted the model’s proficiency in matching verbs over nouns. However, when deciphering nouns, the system exhibited a tendency toward synonymous pairs rather than exact translations. Researchers explained that semantically similar words might evoke similar brain wave patterns during word processing.

The current translation accuracy, measured by BLEU-1 score, stands at around 40%. The researchers aim to improve this score to levels comparable to traditional language translation or speech recognition programs, which typically achieve accuracy levels of about 90%.

This research builds upon prior advancements in brain-computer interface technology at UTS, indicating promising potential for revolutionizing communication avenues for individuals previously hindered by physical limitations.

The findings of this research offer promise in facilitating seamless translation of thoughts into words, empowering individuals facing communication barriers, and fostering enhanced human-machine interactions.

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Niharika is a Technical consulting intern at Marktechpost. She is a third year undergraduate, currently pursuing her B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), Kharagpur. She is a highly enthusiastic individual with a keen interest in Machine learning, Data science and AI and an avid reader of the latest developments in these fields.

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