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Facebook developing tech to allow users to type with their brains

Facebook developing tech to allow users to type with their brains

The social networking site Facebook is working on a technology for people to write their thoughts through brainwaves without the need for a keyboard. Oculus has already dealt with some blowback for its Terms and Conditions which give Facebook access to your movements and where you're looking in VR, what these scandals look like in the future could be even more invasive.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social network is creating brain-computer-interface technology that "one day will let you communicate using your mind". The brain-computer interface is now only being used in limited medical trials, but she said that her team at Building 8 is working to create a version that could be released to the public.

Building 8, Facebook's research unit, was launched a year ago. For example, Stanford engineering professor Krishna Shenoy has demonstrated "neural prosthetics" that let people who can't move or speak type via brain signals detected by implanted sensors. We only share some of those thoughts as speech, which Dugan describes as essentially a compression algorithm.

The initiative is the brainchild of Building 8, Facebook's secretive product development and research team. Announced at F8 2017 this morning, it's a project to develop a silent speech interface, with the speed and flexibility of voice control, but the privacy of typing text. Similar to Braille, the technology would rely on manipulating the nerve endings in the skin to send and receive messages.

Far-fetched as it may sound, Dugan said researchers have already found it possible to use brain waves for typing at 8 words per minute. Facebook's goal, working with researchers at several US universities, is to make the system non-invasive, as well as fast enough so that people can type 100 words a minute just by thinking.

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Products from Building 8 will be powered by a breakthrough innovation engine modelled after DARPA and shipped at scale.

During the extraordinary talk, Dugan also revealed that the company has a project under way with the aim of creating a system that would allow people to "hear" through their skin.

As Dugan pointed out the idea is not to decode random thoughts, but rather speech as the brain interprets it, these being the words or thoughts one is sending to the speech centre of the brain.

Dugan compared the silent speech system to how people use photographs. Regina Dugan, head of Building 8, said this technology will use optical imaging (the use of light to look inside the body, as is done with x-rays) instead of any invasive gear.

"You may be able to share your thoughts independent of language: English Spanish or Mandarin, they become the same", she said. "I know this is out here", Schroepfer said to the crowd, adding that Regina Dugan would be on stage soon to explain this next-level concept in greater detail.

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