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The sensor, developed at Chongqing University and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in China, is based on a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), which is a device that generates an electrostatic charge in response to movement.
When it does, it generates a tiny electrical charge that is sent to a device connected to a computer. The subject faces a computer screen and watches as a cursor moves over letters on the screen - when the desired letter is highlighted, the user blinks, selecting the letter.
The process is repeated letter by letter to compose a text. The sensor can also be used to control other devices - turning a lamp on and off, researchers said.
The team suggests their sensor device could be used by people with locked-in syndrome, for example, or ALS - any situation in which a person is unable to communicate in other ways.
The research was published in the journal Science Advances.