In the “first direct-thought tweet,” the patient said “Hello World” 

By Leigh Mcmanus

In what the company behind the technology is calling the “first direct-thought tweet,” the patient said “Hello World,” using the implantable brain computer interface, or microchip.

A paralysed man has become the first person to tweet a message to the world using only direct thought. 

The feat was pulled off by Philip O’Keefe – a motor neurone disease patient – using a microchip implant that picks up his brain signals.

It’s been described as the “first direct-thought tweet” after Mr O’Keefe said said “Hello World” using the brain implant.

Synchron, a brain computer interface company, announced a Twitter takeover by Philip O’Keefe on December 23rd. 

He is one of the patients implanted with computer company Synchron’s Stentrode brain computer interface, or in other words, a microchip in his body that analyses his brain signals and helps carry out commands.

Mr O’Keefe is the first person to successfully message the world on social media directly through thought, Synchron said.

Synchron, a brain computer interface company, announced a Twitter takeover by Philip O’Keefe on December 23rd

Synchron, a brain computer interface company, announced a Twitter takeover by Philip O’Keefe on December 23rd 

“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,” said Mr O’Keefe.

“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.”

Mr O’Keefe took over the Twitter handle of Synchron CEO, Thomas Oxley.

His goal was to share his experience of regaining independence with the world and offer inspiration for the future.

“My hope is that I’m paving the way for people to tweet through thoughts,” was his closing statement.

Mr O’Keefe received the chip in April 2020 following progressive paralysis caused by motor neurone disease which left him unable to engage in work-related or other independent activities.

He has since been using the technology to reconnect with his family, and business colleagues continuing email exchanges and staying actively involved in his consultancy and other business projects.

“These fun holiday tweets are actually an important moment for the field of implantable brain computer interfaces. They highlight the connection, hope and freedom that BCIs (brain computer interfaces) give to people like Phil who have had so much of their functional independence taken away due to debilitating paralysis,” said Mr Oxley.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) acquire brain signals, analyze them, and translate them into commands that are relayed to output devices that carry out desired actions, according to NCBI.