Ann, at age 30, experienced a debilitating brainstem stroke that left her completely paralyzed and unable to speak or breathe. For five years, she lived in fear of dying in her sleep. However, she has since become a pioneer in the development of brain-computer technology, working with researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley.
These researchers have achieved a groundbreaking milestone by synthesizing speech and facial expressions from Ann’s brain signals. They implanted electrodes on her brain’s surface to intercept signals that would have controlled her facial muscles and speech, then trained AI algorithms to decode these signals into text and phonemes. This technology allows Ann to communicate at nearly 80 words per minute, a significant improvement over her previous communication device.
The team also personalized Ann’s synthesized voice and created an avatar that mimics facial movements during conversation. Their ultimate goal is to create a wireless version of this technology, freeing patients like Ann from physical connections to the brain-computer interface.
Ann’s involvement in this study has given her a renewed sense of purpose and the opportunity to contribute to society. She aspires to inspire others facing similar challenges by demonstrating that disabilities need not limit one’s ability to live a fulfilling life.