Highlights From June’s Technical Activities Board Meeting

A message from your 2018 IEEE Technical Activities vice president

3 min read
Photo of Kathy Land
Photo: Kathy Land

THE INSTITUTEAs I mentioned in my last column, the IEEE Technical Activities Board’s (TAB) work throughout 2018 has been focused on the efforts of volunteer-identified and member-driven ad hoc committees. Through the efforts of TAB at its June meeting, we’ve seen progress in the four critical focus areas I identified earlier in the year: nurturing underserved and emerging segments; establishing organizational-unit partnering opportunities; continuing financial transparency and reporting; and simplifying and clarifying Technical Activities operations.

The 13 volunteer-led TAB ad hoc committees have been hard at work to strengthen those focus areas, and I am excited to hear more about their accomplishments at November’s meeting.

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This Implant Turns Brain Waves Into Words

A brain-computer interface deciphers commands intended for the vocal tract

10 min read
A man using an interface, looking at a screen with words on it.

A paralyzed man who hasn’t spoken in 15 years uses a brain-computer interface that decodes his intended speech, one word at a time.

University of California, San Francisco
Blue

A computer screen shows the question “Would you like some water?” Underneath, three dots blink, followed by words that appear, one at a time: “No I am not thirsty.”

It was brain activity that made those words materialize—the brain of a man who has not spoken for more than 15 years, ever since a stroke damaged the connection between his brain and the rest of his body, leaving him mostly paralyzed. He has used many other technologies to communicate; most recently, he used a pointer attached to his baseball cap to tap out words on a touchscreen, a method that was effective but slow. He volunteered for my research group’s clinical trial at the University of California, San Francisco in hopes of pioneering a faster method. So far, he has used the brain-to-text system only during research sessions, but he wants to help develop the technology into something that people like himself could use in their everyday lives.

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