Facebook has a plan to let you type with your brain

SAN JOSE — There’s mind-blowing technology, and then there’s brain-computer technologies.

Facebook’s “direct brain interface,” a creation of its secretive Building 8 division, could take tech-enhanced communication to the next level.

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. “What if you could type directly from your brain… with the speed and flexibility of voice and the privacy of text?” Building 8 head Regina Dugan said at the second day of Facebook’s F8 developer’s conference here.

She noted the brain contains about 86 billion neurons and is capable of producing 1 terabyte of information per second. Think of a “brain mass for augmented reality,” she said.

The brain-to-text project is a couple years away and would require new, non-invasive sensors to measure brain activity hundreds of times per second, Dugan told USA TODAY after the keynote. A speech prosthetic for people with communication disorders would likely be the first application. “This (project) could be as transformative as the (computer) mouse,” she said.

While such a project represents a “huge leap”, the implications could be unsettling to consumers, many of whom think Facebook knows too much about their daily habits and actions — let alone their thoughts, says Debra Aho Williamson, a principal analyst at eMarketer.

Facebook is working with scientists, engineers and system integrators from UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who specialize in machine learning methods for decoding speech and language.

Source by: usatoday