Ambient Corporation has developed a neckband that picks up subvocal communication and translates it into synthesized speech. New Scientist has an article on the technology and a video demonstration that's quite impressive. The applications range from cell phones to aids for people who have lost the capacity to speak due to certain neurological conditions. Called the Audeo, it currently recognizes about 150 words and phrases. A new version without a limited vocabulary is slated for release later this year. From New Scientist:
With careful training a person can send nerve signals to their vocal cords without making a sound. These signals are picked up by the neckband and relayed wirelessly to a computer that converts them into words spoken by a computerised voice.
Users needn't worry about that the system voicing their inner thoughts though. Callahan says producing signals for the Audeo to decipher requires "a level above thinking". Users must think specifically about voicing words for them to be picked up by the equipment.