Monday, 18 December, 2017

Facebook Is Working on Letting You Type With Your Brain

Facebook Is Working on Letting You Type With Your Brain Facebook Is Working on Letting You Type With Your Brain
Sherri Watson | 20 April, 2017, 06:01

It is developing "silent speech" software to allow people to type at a rate of 100 words per minute, it says.

"Understanding semantics means that one day you may be able to choose to share your thoughts independent of language".

Regina Dugan, vice president of engineering of Building 8 at Facebook, speaks on stage during the second day of the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 19, 2017.

At the same time, these efforts raise hard questions related to patient privacy, as any brain-to-text system will essentially read a person's unspoken thoughts.

Such technology as we know it today, referred to as "neural lace", has been described by early researchers as a fine mesh that could be injected into our brains so our electric thoughts can be easily translated into machine-readable bytes.

"Optical imaging is a good place to start", she said wryly, before adding that part of the research required "filtering for quasi-ballistic photons". She presented a video showing a Facebook employee who was able to differentiate between three shapes, colors, and actions, and even understand them when chained together. Dugan argues that the ability to express thoughts in new ways could change the very way we communicate with one another, opening a fascinating can of philosophical worms.

Facebook is looking at creating "silent-speech interfaces" based on sensors that could be worn, and made in quantity.

"This is about decoding the words you've already chose to share by sending them to the speech center of your brain".

Such technology could let people fire off text messages or emails by thinking, instead of needing to interrupt what they are doing to use smartphone touchscreens, for example. Separately, Building 8 also is working on technology that could help people "hear" with their skin, Dugan said.

That being said Facebook is not only working on transmitting speech but also receiving it in an entirely new way as well. Even a simple yes/no "brain click" would help make things like augmented reality feel much more natural.

Regina Dugan of Facebook's Building 8 team shows a video of someone hearing words through their skin via sensors.

We learned from Business Insider today that Facebook is now working on some seriously incredible new technology. CEO Mark Zuckerberg blogged today about the project stating that "eventually, we want to turn it [speechless communication] into a wearable technology that can be manufactured at scale". She cautioned that the outcome is still years away, but the aim is clear. Recent job postings for Building 8 show the unit is hiring engineers for a two-year project "focused on developing advanced (brain-computer interface) technologies". Dugan was previously the head of Google's similarly styled Advanced Technology and Projects Group and director of the Pentagon's DARPA research agency.