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April 20, 2017

Facebook Wants You to Type With Your Brain, Hear With Your Skin

Facebook is working on two silent speech projects that will, eventually, allow you to hear with your skin and type using your mind, rather than your fingers.

The projects come from the social networking firm’s top secret Building 8 research group that is headed by Regina Dugan, the former director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Building 8 is tasked with creating new hardware products to advance Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of “connecting the world.”

Regina Dugan speaks Wednesday at Facebook's annual developer conference in San Jose, Calif.

Regina Dugan speaks Wednesday at Facebook’s annual developer conference in San Jose, Calif.

Facebook, during the second day of its annual developer conference in San Jose, Calif., announced both projects as part of its bid to develop “silent speech” software.

“So what if you could type directly from your brain? It sounds impossible but it is closer than you realize,” Dugan said on stage at Wednesday’s event. “Even something as basic as a ‘yes/no’ brain click would fundamentally change our capability. A brain mouse for AR.”

She said more than 60 scientists and engineers are working to create a silent speech system that is capable of typing 100 words per minute using only the brain — that is five times faster than most people can text using a Smartphone.

“This isn’t about decoding your random thoughts. Think of it like this: You take many photos and choose to share only some of them. Similarly, you have many thoughts and choose to share only some of them,” Dugan said.“This is about decoding those words you’ve already decided to share by sending them to the speech center of your brain. A silent speech interface, one with all the speed and flexibility of voice but with the privacy of typed text. Better yet, with the ability to text your friend without taking out your phone or to send a quick e-mail without missing the party.”

The goal, she said, is to create non-invasive, wearable sensors that enable brain-to-screen functionality and can be manufactured at scale.

Building 8’s second silent speech software project is directed at allowing you to hear with your skin. The hardware and software needed to deliver language through the skin is currently in the works.

“One day, not so far away, it may be possible for me to think in Mandarin and you to feel it instantly in Spanish,” Dugan said, adding that the technology would benefit those who cannot read or write or those with hearing and vision impairments.

She said both silent speech technologies are at least a few years away from becoming a reality.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.