Facebook launched the research shop, called Building 8, previous year to conduct long-term work that might lead to hardware products. Ultimately, the event serves as an opportunity for the company to unveil their most innovative products and reveal key details about upcoming projects. "We can do the same work of the cochlea, but transmit the resulting frequency information, instead, via your skin". Apple is said to be working on a similar project.
There's mind-blowing technology, and then there's brain-computer technologies. Facebook already knows a ton about you, but brain activity may be a bridge too far.
Dugan's emphasis on thought-typing's tie to voluntary human decisions could be the foundation of Facebook's "trust us" pitch for such technology.
Facebook Inc.'s research lab Building 8 is working to make it possible for people to type using signals from their brains, part of the lab's broader effort to free people from their phones.
Dugan is a former DARPA executive.
While neither of these projects will yield a gadget that you can buy, Dugan said she can imagine it happening eventually.
"Unlike other approaches, ours will be focused on developing a noninvasive system that could one day become a speech prosthetic for people with communication disorders or a new means for input to AR", Dugan said in a post on her Facebook page, referring to augmented reality.
Don't expect to see any of this technology in the real-world this year, but Dugan said maybe in a couple of years. And yet, when we communicate through speech, it's at the rate of a 1980s dial-up modem.
She noted the brain contains about 86 billion neurons and is capable of producing 1 terabyte of information per second. However, through speech, we can only transmit information to others at about 100 bytes per a second.
Facebook Building 8 creators also worked with Braille - tiny bumps on paper that can be "read" by users without sight. For example, people with ALS could type-not with eye blinks-but with their thoughts.
Scrapping the need for physical or virtual keyboards in favor of direct-to-brain interface has been considered an inevitable eventuality by many scientists, mostly because it falls directly in line with the natural progression that human development follows.
Next, they will work to allow people to "type" a staggering 100 words a minute using their thoughts. Thinking our words into a computer would likely be more efficient than manually typing them. The average person types between 38 and 40 words per minute. Inspired by the Tadoma method developed by Hellen Keller-which allows a blind and deaf person to learn to "hear" and speak simply by touching the throat of someone who is talking-it's a combination of hardware and software that could allow humans to discern vocalizations simply by feeling those vibrations, rather than literally hearing them. Another engineer had a tablet computer with nine different words on its display; as he tapped the different words-like "grasp", "black", and "cone"-the first engineer felt vibrations on her arm that corresponded with the words and was able to correctly interpret that she needed to pick up a black cone on the table in front of her".