Type with your brain? Facebook's working on it

Apr 20, 2017, 08:53
Type with your brain? Facebook's working on it

Even a simple yes/no "brain click" would help make things like augmented reality feel much more natural.Technology is going to have to get a lot more advanced before we can share a pure thought or feeling, but this is a first step.

Dugan told software developers at Facebook's annual F8 conference that the company was modeling Building 8 after DARPA, a government office founded in the 1950s that gave the world the internet and the miniaturized Global Positioning System receivers used in consumer devices.

Far-fetched as it may sound, Dugan said researchers have already found it possible to use brain waves for typing at 8 words per minute.

Facebook experts say the technology could be useful in particular as an aide for people with communication disorders.

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.

Facebook Building 8 creators also worked with Braille - tiny bumps on paper that can be "read" by users without sight.

Facebook's futuristic endeavor is the latest to explore the human brain.

Brain-computer interfaces are nothing new. The promise of this technology means that soon computing will no longer be a tactile experience. One major roadblock? The technology to power them doesn't exist yet.

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Facebook is building what it calls a "brain-computer speech-to-text interface", technology that's supposed to translate your thoughts directly from your brain to a computer screen without any need for speech or fingertips.

Facebook is exploring a silent speech system with a team of more than 60 scientists that would let people type 100 words per minute with their brain. We only share some of those thoughts as speech, which Dugan describes as essentially a compression algorithm.

These breakthroughs may seem lightyears away, but Facebook says they are in fact closer than we think - possessing massive implications for the future of communication in our lifetime.

That is why we love great writers and poets, because they are just a little bit better at compressing the fullness of a thought into words.

Dugan's presentation highlighted a keynote devoted to Facebook's future projects in connectivity, artificial intelligence and virtual reality/augmented reality. Technophobes and privacy advocates will nearly certainly balk at the ideas. Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, was able to decode language by the slight pressure changes created by puffs of air and vibrations when she placed her hands over a person's throat and jaw. Dugan herself acknowledged some of these potential concerns on Wednesday.

Dugan said that Facebook had already developed a basic system that could let a person feel vibrations corresponding to a handful of different words. "That might be more than any of us care to know". It's impossible for anyone to tell what kinds of tech we'll be using in 50, 20, or even 10 years.

Six months ago this project was just an idea. Today they announced two of the most ground breaking projects that are now in development.