During the ongoing F8 event, which is a ‘mostly’ annual Facebook event being held at San Francisco Bay Area, California, some of the most cutting-edge, futuristic technology has been showcased. The theme of the event is to connect developers with entrepreneurs and ignite innovations encompassing software, hardware and the human body.
And this year, Facebook has revealed conceptions and actual demos which makes science fiction as a reality and pushes us straight into the future.
There were several announcements, demonstrations and prototypes showcased in the event, but two stand out due to the sheer magnitude of its implications: Facebook wants us to type directly via our brain, and listen via our skins.
Is this the direction towards which we are headed right now?
Type 100 Words per Minute, Straight From Your Brain
As per Mark Zuckerberg, our brains produce enough data to stream 4 HD movies, per second. But the problem is that speech is the only medium via which this massive amount of data can come out.
And no matter how fast you can speak, speech makes the output of data like a 1980 modem.
In order to overcome this obstacle, Facebook is right now working on a technology, which will connect our brains with the electronic screen, directly. This way, whatever we think, can be typed into the screen instantly.
This will empower us to type at a speed of 100 words per minute, or 5 times the normal speed with which we currently typing on a smartphone.
And if you are still not believing it, then Facebook tech masters have already demonstrated this brain-to-computer interface. The audience saw a woman typing directly from her brain, into a computer, at a speed of 8 words per minute.
This project is being headed by Regina Dugan, who is in-charge of the famous Building 8, a division within Facebook which works on ‘secretive’ hardware-software collaboration.
During the demo, she said, “That’s five times faster than you can type on your smartphone, and it’s straight from your brain. Your brain activity contains more information than what a word sounds like and how it’s spelt; it also contains semantic information of what those words mean.”
Note here, that Regina was earlier heading DARPA or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under U.S. Department of Defense, which was established to work on ’emerging technology’ for the military. DARPA has already made some amazing developments into the brain-computer interface.
Zuckerberg revealed his eventual plans, when he said, “Eventually, we want to turn it into a wearable technology that can be manufactured at scale. Even a simple yes/no ‘brain click’ would help make things like augmented reality feel much more natural..”
Listen In Spanish, But Understand in English?
Listening via skin is another major pathbreaking technology which Facebook is currently working on. In a way, it is like the concept of braille for visually impaired, but instead of the actual, physical touching with fingers, the person ‘senses’ and ‘understands’ via actuators and sensors.
In the demo, Regina showcased a woman who was able to figure out the icons and objects selected on a touch screen, via inputs received on her armband. That woman was able to understand words, derived from a vocabulary of 9 words.
For persons with disabilities, this can be a revolution, a new world.
Regine said, “Our world is both digital and physical. Our goal is to create and ship new, category-defining consumer products that are social first, at scale.”
If this technology is actually implemented into a product, then all you need to do is wear an armband and speak with a citizen from Spain. You can listen in Spanish, but instantly, you will understand it in English.
Technology is magic, and these demonstrations made by Facebook proves that.
Photo by Nick Statt / The Verge