An Australian man with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the first person to tweet a message to the world using only his thought with no other muscles.
On Thursday, Australian brain computer interface company Synchron published a press release detailing how one of its patients, Philip O'Keefe, 62yo man with ALS, is the first person to tweet directly through thought using an implantable brain-computer interface. O'Keefe's ALS has left him in paralysis.
"Hello, world!" tweeted O'Keefe from Synchron CEO Thomas Oxley's Twitter account. "Short tweet. Monumental progress."
hello, world! Short tweet. Monumental progress.— Thomas Oxley (@tomoxl) December 23, 2021
"My hope is that I'm paving the way for people to tweet through thoughts," he tweeted in a follow-up message.
my hope is that I'm paving the way for people to tweet through thoughts phil— Thomas Oxley (@tomoxl) December 23, 2021
According to Synchron, O'Keefe received the Stentrode brain-computer interface in April 2020. ALS has left him unable to communicate with his family or friends. However, the new small stent-mounted electrode array implanted in his brain through the jugular has allowed him to reconnect with the world.
"When I first heard about this technology, I knew how much independence it could give back to me. The system is astonishing, it's like learning to ride a bike - it takes practice, but once you're rolling, it becomes natural.
"Now, I just think about where on the computer I want to click, and I can email, bank, shop, and now message the world via Twitter," O'Keefe said in a statement.
Synchron claims O'Keefe is reconnecting with the world.
"These fun holiday tweets are actually an important moment for the field of implantable brain computer interfaces," Oxley said in the statement. "They highlight the connection, hope and freedom that BCIs give to people like Phil who have had so much of their functional independence taken away due to debilitating paralysis."
Synchron's implantable brain-computer interface is similar to Elon Musk's mind-machine interface company, Neuralink, which alleges it can "enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs."