Facebook wants you to type with your brain

Isaac Cain
April 20, 2017

At Facebook's annual developer conference, F8, on Wednesday, the group unveiled what may be Facebook's most ambitious-and creepiest-proposal yet.

The company is working to create what they call a "direct brain interface" that would allow users to type messages with their brains.

At least, when it comes to what you'd like to say or type. Facebook's goal, working with researchers at several USA universities, is to make the system non-invasive, as well as fast enough so that people can type 100 words a minute just by thinking. "We are not talking about decoding random thoughts", said Dugan. "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 mean". TechCrunch reported that the company is hiring a Brain-Computer Interface Engineer and a Neural Imaging Engineer. Over time, though, brain interfaces could be a way to "think" a message rather than typing it, or send a text in the middle of a conversation, Facebook thinks. Additionally, she said, this technology could serve as a "speech prosthetic" for patients with paralysis. Another engineer had a tablet computer with nine different words on its display; as he tapped the different words-like "grasp", "black", and "cone"-the first engineer felt vibrations on her arm that corresponded with the words and was able to correctly interpret that she needed to pick up a black cone on the table in front of her".

Dugan adds that it's also possible to "listen" to human speech by using your skin. The system, comparable to Braille, uses pressure points on the skin to relay information. Dugan showed a video example of how a woman could figure out exactly what objects were selected on a touchscreen based on inputs delivered through a connected armband.

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, last month announced the formation of Neuralink, a company that would merge computers with brains to keep up with artificial intelligence. That would be true of thoughts the system will translate.

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The end goal is to build an online world that feels more immersive and real-no doubt so that you spend more time on Facebook.

The human brain is streaming the equivalent of 40 HD movies every second.

They will be using optical imaging as the non invasive technology, as it is capable of "providing both the spatial and temporal resolution" necessary to carrying out the tasks.

"If we put these two things together, they suggest that one day not so far away, it may be possible for me to think in Mandarin and for you to feel it instantly in Spanish". 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".

"Even something as simple as a "yes/no" brain click, or a "brain mouse" would be transformative".

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