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How the iBrain monitor could let Stephen Hawking speak by thinking

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The iBrain, which monitors brainwaves, is being tested as an alternative communication method for Dr. Stephen Hawking, who could one day use it to directly convert thoughts into words.


Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has seen his ability to communicate diminish as his Lou Gherig's disease has progressed — he currently "speaks" with a pair of infrared glasses that pick up twitches in his cheek. A group of researchers are trying to change this with a headband called the iBrain, which can pick up brain waves and could conceivably convert them into recognizable signals. "The idea is to see if Stephen can use his mind to create a consistent and repeatable pattern that a computer can translate into, say, a word or letter or a command for a computer," says creator Philip Low. The project is still in the early stages, but The New York Times has published an excellent explanation of how the iBrain's creators are trying to revolutionize communication.