Facebook has revealed that it is working on brain-computer interface technology that will allow human beings to type with their thoughts rather than with their hands. But unlike in technologies developed for medical purposes, Facebook’s technology will not use invasive implants. A team of 60 engineers has been engaged to work on this particular initiative. This was disclosed during the social media giant’s F8 developer conference.
To scan the brain in order to read thoughts, the brain-computer interface technology will make use of optical imaging. This will scan the brain at a rate of a 100 times a second in order to detect thoughts being processed. The technology will then convert the thoughts into text.
Regina Dugan, who is the head of Facebook’s Building 8, a secret research and development team, said that her team aims to come up with a technology that will allow for a typing speed of about 100 words a minute. This is about five times faster than typing away on a smartphone.
“We are just getting started. We have a goal of creating a system capable of typing 100 words-per-minute straight from your brain,” said Dugan.
AR and VR
According to Dugan, the brain-computer interface technology could eventually be used in virtual reality and augmented reality in the place of a controller or a screen.
As an example of the progress that has already been made, Dugan demonstrated the work done by researchers at Stanford University who had implanted a sensor in a paralyzed patient and the patient was now able to type at the rate of five words a minute.
University research institutions
The brain-computer interface technology development effort by Building 8 started half a year ago. The initiative has signed on collaborators from UC Berkeley, St Louis’ Washington University School of Medicine, UC San Francisco, Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, and Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Due to fears of violation of privacy that the technology might inspire, Facebook has said that random thoughts won’t be turned into text but only those thoughts users have made a decision to share.
On Wednesday shares of Facebook Inc rose by 0.93% to close the day at $142.27.