Facebook’s secretive Building 8 is working on brain-computer interface

By : |April 21, 2017 0

Following in the footsteps of Tesla’s Elon Musk, who aims to connect your brain with a computer, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook’s Building 8 – a secretive research lab which was launched last year – is building a brain-computer interface that will allow people to communicate using just their brains.

Facebook revealed it has a team of 60 engineers working on building its ambitious brain-computer interface, which will help people control augmented reality and virtual reality experiences with their mind instead of a screen.

“We are working on a system that will let people type with their brains. Specifically, we have a goal of creating a silent speech system capable of typing 100 words per minute straight from your brain – that’s five times faster than you can type on a smartphone today,” Facebook said on its official blog.

CIOL Facebook's secretive Building 8 is working on brain-computer interface

“Our brains produce enough data to stream 4 HD movies every second. The problem is that the best way we have to get information out into the world – speech – can only transmit about the same amount of data as a 1980s modem. Eventually, we want to turn it into a wearable technology that can be manufactured at scale. Even a simple yes/no “brain click” would help make things like augmented reality feel much more natural.” it further added.

Regina Dugan, the head of Building 8, explained that the goal is to eventually allow people to type 100 words per minute, which is 5X faster than typing on the phone, with just their mind.

“What if you could type directly from your brain?” Dugan asked. She showed a video of a paralysed medical patient at Stanford who can type using their mind thanks to an implanted sensor. She went on to explain how Facebook wants to do this without surgical implants.

The plan is to build non-implanted devices that can ship at scale eventually. Face said, “This isn’t about decoding random thoughts. This is about decoding the words you’ve already decided to share by sending them to the speech centre of your brain.”

And that’s not all. Dugan adds that it’s also possible to “listen” to a human speech by using your skin. Building 8 is working on prototypes of hardware and software that let your skin mimic the cochlea in your ear that translates sound into specific frequencies for your brain. This technology could let deaf people essentially “hear” by bypassing their ears.

Yes, it will take time, thats why Facebook called it a “plan over the next 10 years.”

Facebook hired Dugan last year to lead its new project Building 8 research lab. She previously headed Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects group and was formerly a head of U.S. Department of Defense’s DARPA.

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