Regina Dugan, a former executive at Google and Darpa (the United States government's top secret research centre), took to the stage at Facebook'sF8 developer conference, saying that we need a new interface beyond the smartphone screen which has taken over our lives (or attention, at least).
She went on to explain how Facebookwants to do this without surgical implants. Because it's a cutting edge field of science, figuring out what insights you can glean from the measurements you take from someone's brain it's hard to communicate the privacy risks to people.
"What if we could do the same work of the cochlea but transmit the resulting frequency information instead via your skin?", she asked. "What if we could type directly from our brain into a computer?"
According to Reuters and The Verge, the project is in the works at the social network's Building 8 research group, a division led by former DARPA director and Google executive Regina Dugan, and was formally announced during a presentation at Facebook's F8 developer conference.
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.
During the conference, Dugan showed a video of a paralyzed medical patient at Stanford who could type using the mind thanks to an implanted sensor.
She then highlighted how brain interface systems now used in medical cases, allow people for eight words per minute for people, but that system requires the use of implanted electrodes (into the brain), and according to Dugan, "that simply won't scale". Oculus has already dealt with some blowback for its Terms and Conditions which give Facebook access to your movements and where you're looking in VR, what these scandals look like in the future could be even more invasive.
Furthermore, Ms. Dugan said a major barrier to reading thoughts would be developing non-invasive sensors able of detecting brainwaves. We only share some of those thoughts as speech, which Dugan describes as essentially a compression algorithm.
What if you could type with your brain?
As the name suggests, this means that users can convert words they are thinking into actual text on the screen.
This, Dugan says, also has the potential of removing language barriers.
"We also have a project directed at allowing people to hear with their skin".
The efforts take advantage of the huge computing power of the human brain, which can stream 40 high-definition movies at any moment, Dugan said.
These things are, still, a few years out, Dugan warns.
'For the massive use of such technology we can not use brain implants, but non-invasive sensors that control brain activity at high speed and in real time, ' she said.
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