This is what a team from Cognitive Systems Lab at KIT and the Wadsworth Center in New York has managed to do. Using 7 epileptic patients who volunteered for the study, they each had an electrode array attached to the surface of their cerebral cortex in order to monitor brain waves related to speech. A combination of this information combined with machine learning and linguistic knowledge allowed a system to be created that can reconstruct what is being spoken.
The video below shows the speech decoding system in action. The decoded speech can be printed out as text or converted to audio for output.
Being able to effectively read someone’s mind as they say stuff in their head is a very powerful tool to have available. The most obvious first use is for so-called locked-in patients who can’t communicate with those around them. This new method potentially gives them a new way to do that allowing for better treatment. It also signals another step towards a mass-market mind reading solution, a process that will inevitably get easier as these systems are perfected and the tech required to monitor brain activity gets better.