Facebook’s “Typing-by-Brain” project decodes signals from brain’s speech center

Brain-Computer Interface

What is exciting about this project?

Recently, Facebook, a well renowned social media company announced that they are working on “Typing by the brain”, a Brain-Computer Interface system. Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s R&D division Building 8, said that Brain-Computer Interface would be capable of decoding the signals directly from the brain’s speech center at an incredible speed of 100 words per minute.

What is the technology and stage of development?

Dugan further said that the technology used in “Typing by brain” project would be non-invasive. This differentiates, with Elon Musk’s mysterious new Neural lace company that works on neural dust, which is nothing but the small implants. These neural dust will be embedded in the blood vessels of the brain. Currently, Facebook has no plans for invasive implants, she added.

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What do they hope to accomplish / what are the practical applications?

Through this technology, Facebook promised 100 words per minute, which is kind of interesting keeping earlier such records in mind. Jaimie Henderson, who is the Stanford neurosurgeon assisted similar research and said paralyzed patients were able to type 8 words per minute and that too with the help of a device implanted in their brain.

Dugan further added that Facebook technology would use brain’s speech center. Though, she didn’t specify exactly which brain’s speech center she was referring to. Facebook wants to save the time of people, on the other hand, they also want to give the wealth of experience to paralyzed patients. With their technology, these patients can efficiently utilize their time and thoughts.

Who are the partners and key players?

The Facebook spokesperson said that Mike Wolmetz and Nathan Crone at Johns Hopkins University, Edward Chang at UC San Francisco, and Jack Gallant at UC Berkeley are few researchers that are recruited for this project. The primary task of these scientists is to find out the neural circuitry of speech and find where the semantic concepts are organized and accessed in the brain.

What’s the market ahead for this technology?

Facebook’s R&D Building 8 has two goals. Their first two-year goal is to use implanted electrodes and improve the current rate at which people type to 100 words per minute. To keep track of this, Dugan is working with her team and other partners such as UC San Francisco, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and UC Berkeley.

Building 8’s second goal over the next two years includes identification-whether typed thoughts can be read without the need of device implanted in the brain.

This will result in device’s cost degradation, hence making it available to a larger group of people.

Conclusion

Facebook’s “Typing by brain” will get inside your head and skin. Mark Chevillet who is the technical head of Facebook, said that the technology would be designed in such a way that it will operate during the final part of your speech process. This means it will be performed right before your mouth gets a message from the brain to start moving. It seems that you won’t require speaking in Siri or Cortana as Facebook’s technology will make you talk internally without making any sound.

Image credit: www.istockphoto.com

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