In this era of wearables, AI, and algorithms, a new type of wearable is on the horizon – a wristband that can read your mind. Social media platform Facebook says it has developed a wristband that translates motor signals from your brain so you can move a digital object just by thinking about it.
Facebook’s bracelet lets you type without a keyboard (potentially without even moving your fingers) or control something on soon-to-be-released AR glasses.
“At Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) Research, we’re building an interface for AR that won’t force us to choose between interacting with our devices and the world around us. We’re developing natural, intuitive ways to interact with always-available AR glasses because we believe this will transform the way we connect with people near and far,” Facebook said in a blog post.
“What we’re trying to do with neural interfaces is to let you control the machine directly, using the output of the peripheral nervous system — specifically the nerves outside the brain that animate your hand and finger muscles,” says FRL Director of Neuromotor Interfaces Thomas Reardon, who joined the FRL team when Facebook acquired CTRL-labs in 2019.
This new technology could help people with mobility and sensory limitations tremendously. Facebook showed a demonstration of a person who was born without several fingers, on one hand, using the device to move a computer 3D model of a full hand moving and grasping.
Another of the most interesting use of this tech is typing without a keyboard. This eliminates the possibility of typos from accidentally hit keys.
Facebook isn’t the only player working to make smart tech that is truly mind-reading. The U.S. Army is also formally interested in the telepathic possibilities of this technology, reports Pymts.com. The Army, in cooperation with researchers from the University of Southern California, UCLA Berkeley and Duke University, is providing $6.25 million in funding over the next five years to research whether algorithms and advanced mathematics provide the foundation for separating brain signals that “influence action or behavior from signals that do not.”
Hamid Krim, an Army Research Office program manager, explained that initiatives based on research might be able to create devices that will detect things like stress and fatigue signals from soldiers and transmit them to their leaders. Theoretically, it could also be used to create a channel for silent communication via a central computer while boots are on the ground.