News Worms
News Worms


Type with your brain? Facebook's working on it

Type with your brain? Facebook's working on it

Facebook's research unit Building 8 is working to make it possible for people to type using signals from their brains, part of the lab's broader effort to free people from their phones.

At least, when it comes to what you'd like to say or type. 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.

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

The idea is that this technology will be able to take what you're thinking to yourself in silence, using non-invasive sensors that can read exactly what you intend to say, and turn it into readable text. "Your brain activity contains more information than what a word sounds like and how it's spelled; it also contains semantic information of what those words means".

Brain-computer interfaces are nothing new.

Details were relatively scant as to what this would really look like, though a Stanford University experiment Dugan referenced relied on "an array of electrodes the size of a pea" implanted inside the subject's brain.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Tuesday at the company's annual F8 developers' conference that the social-media giant would make its augmented-reality tools, which mix digital and physical spaces, available to third-parties to create custom masks, filters and other effects. "Our goal is to create and ship new, category-defining consumer products that are social first, at scale". Additionally, she said, this technology could serve as a "speech prosthetic" for patients with paralysis. This tech has been in development to aid people with disabilities, working a little like a Braille that you feel with your body rather than your fingers. The armband's system of actuators was tuned to 16 frequency bands, and has a tactile vocabulary of nine words, learned in about an hour. The speech interface, powered by non-invasive sensors that can measure brain activity hundreds of times per second, could be useful for people with disabilities, or to simplify the process of interacting with alternate and virtual reality. Dugan is an ex-DARPA, Motorola and Google executive who Facebook hired previous year to lead Building 8. Brain-computer interface technology is still in its infancy. Researchers have been trying to use the skin to transmit language for decades - though with limited degrees of success. But stimulating the brain's motor cortex is a lot simpler than reading a person's thoughts and then translating those thoughts into something that might actually be read by a computer.

For its more near-term goal of making videos and images more immersive, Facebook unveiled a design for two new three-dimensional cameras.

"Our brains produce enough data to stream 4 HD movies every second". The problem is that the best way we have to get information out into the world - speech - can only transmit about the same amount of data as a 1980s modem.

Facebook wants to let you type with your thoughts and "hear with your skin".

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