Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that Facebook is interested in computer interfaces using the human brain, but we haven't really seen any concrete examples of what kind of interfaces the company was working on. Now we do, as Facebook's Regina Dugan, a former DARPA director and Google ATAP employee, revealed two of the projects at the company's F8 Conference.
The first project is a system for allowing people to type with their brains. Stanford has developed systems that allow this to happen via surgical implants, but Facebook's system works a different way. It uses a wearable sensor that uses optical neuro-imaging sensors that senses what you want to type.
If you're afraid of Facebook reading your thoughts, the company says not to worry. You can think freely, and not everything you think will automatically get turned into text. It's unclear how Facebook will accomplish this, but the company says it'll work like how you approach speech. You've got all these thoughts in your head, but you don't say all of them.
Essential reading: Facebook prepares for the AR future
The second project is a way for people to hear through their skin. The company's secretive Building 8 research team has been building prototype wearables that allow your skin to function as your inner ear, translating sounds into frequencies your brain can understand as, well, sounds. Currently, Facebook has built a vocabulary of nine words that the research team could understand through skin.
Both of the projects are steps on the way to Dugan's vision of the future, which allow people to use what she called a "brain mouse" to control VR and AR technology without any inputs. So instead of using a controller to manipulate objects and a video screen to rely on for information, you'd be able to deliver and receive information silently, without anyone but Facebook's technology and software knowing what's going on. It's one part terrifying, one part fascinating and 100% Facebook's vision for the future of AR and VR.
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