Sci-tech

Facebook gives peek inside unit studying brain-to-text technology

Facebook gives peek inside unit studying brain-to-text technology”

But what is most interesting is Facebook's investment into building a brain-computer interface that will let users type using their mind.

Facebook of course is a company that is investing heavily in research at the moment, and is not afraid of branching out in the hardware arena.

What if you could type with your brain?

"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", Zuckerberg wrote in his post.

Facebook's Building 8 is the company's secretive research unit, and according to the social network this is being modeled after DARPA, the US Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. "A silent speech interface - one with all the speed and flexibility of voice". An idea could be transmitted just via touch, and the project revealed how some thoughts can be transmitted via skin.

Facebook's Regina Dugan said: "We are not talking about decoding your random thoughts". Facebook is building sensors that will be able to measure brain activity and turn it into text, with the goal of typing around 100 words per minute from your brain.

Currently, people using brain implants are capable of typing eight words per minute, she said, and Reuters noted that the company's goal is to partner with researchers at universities across the USA to make a non-invasive interface capable of typing 100 words per minute by thinking.

Before joining Google, Dugan ran the Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, devoted to developing technology for the USA military.

Dugan also then went to explain that Building 8 has another project directed at allowing people to hear with their skin. "Even a simple yes/no "brain click" would help make things like augmented reality feel much more natural", he added.

The report adds that Dugan said the technology won't be invading people's minds, it would just decode the words that people "already chose to share by sending them to the speech centre" of their brains.

Braille, invented in France in the 19th century, has proven that small bumps on a surface can be interpreted in the brain as words. "One day, you may choose to share your thoughts independent of language", she says, suggesting that just because you don't share a language with someone, that needn't mean you can't communicate with them. "It has allowed us to connect with people far away from us too often at the expense of people sitting right next to us", Dugan said.

Because basic systems in use today now don't operate in real-time and require surgery to implant electrodes-a giant barrier we've yet to surmount-Facebook's new team is researching non-invasive sensors based on optical imaging that Dugan says would need to sample data at hundreds of times per second and precise to millimeters.



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