Technology becoming more immersive, and now we are ready to read text, if only it wasn’t in public. Researchers from MIT Media Lab came up with the perfect device. It looks like the mask of Bane crossed with an octopus. Or, if you remember the movie “Alien”, reminds the monster that hugs your head before you sink her in the jaw.
Scientists presented their work at the International conference on intelligent user interfaces (Yes, this happens) in March in Tokyo.
It works in the following way. When you think about the words, they quietly passed into your mouth, pouring into your mouth. Or, more precisely, signals are sent to muscles that control your mouth. And these signals will not go unnoticed for sensitive computer.
The scientists call their device AlterEgo. Around the mouth are the seven electrodes, which capture the desired signals. Data from the electrodes are picked up in several rounds of processing before they are relayed wirelessly to a device that is awaiting instructions nearby. Also included are transcranial headphones, so that the device can answer.
Scientists have tested the prototype on several people who have trained the software to recognize data corresponding to various commands (“call”, “answer”, “add”), and then another few to understand how exactly the system works. The results were promising, but the device is not quite ready to go into mass production.
The closest comparison is with this system is a device, which can be accessed using ordinary speech, like Siri or Alexa. But what is terrible, this is not the first attempt of scientists to create a means of direct transfer of our thoughts to computers. Most of the early versions relied directly on the brain signals (and the electrodes were applied to or is implanted directly into the brain, which is not very convenient).
According to scientists, AlterEgo has the following advantages:
- It is non-invasive
- It is 92% accurate (approximately at the level of Siri or Alexa)
- It is portable (and cute)
- Unlike direct reading of brain signals, it cannot read your personal thoughts (except those that you quietly whisper to yourself)
In some situations, this device can certainly be useful. Individual movements can tell your phone to turn the music on, open the calculator or to write a message to a friend. It can be used to control your smart home, switch off the oven or turn on the coffee machine. In ten years it will be possible to type just by thinking. It is perfect for people with mobility problems or visual impairment.
But. There is a big but. There are a few things that may put into question the ideality of AlterEgo. The electrodes should not be moved, when a person is using, or all the readings will go to pieces. Hard to imagine that the person will be comfortable to wear this device for half face. And there is no information about how the system will behave in real conditions – that scientists have yet to verify. And of course there is the problem of superimposed signals, when thoughts are confused, and the device already receives and develops. And if you hack the device? Who will speak on your behalf then?
Scary to think about.