Facebook is exploring brain control for AR wearables

TechCrunch | 7/30/2019 | Staff
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Facebook this morning issued a lengthy breakdown of recent research into BCI (brain-computer interface) as a means with which to control future augmented reality interfaces. The piece coincides with a Facebook-funded UCSF research paper published in Nature today entitled, “Real-time decoding of question-and-answer speech dialogue using human cortical activity.”

Elements of the research have fairly humane roots, as BCI technology could be used to assist people with conditions such as ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease), helping to communicate in ways that their body is no longer naturally able.

Accessibility - Use - Case - Technology - Facebook

Accessibility could certainly continue to be an important use case for the technology, though Facebook appears to have its sights set on broader applications with the creation of AR wearables that eliminate the need for voice or typed commands.

“Today we’re sharing an update on our work to build a non-invasive wearable device that lets people type just by imagining what they want to say,” Facebook AR/VR VP Andrew “Boz” Bosworth said on Twitter. “Our progress shows real potential in how future inputs and interactions with AR glasses could one day look.”

Day - Aspect - Lot - Caveats - Note

“One day” appears to be a key aspect in all of this. A lot of the key caveats in all of this note that the technology is still on a relatively distant horizon. “It could take a decade,” Facebook writes in the post, “but we think we can close the gap.”

Among the strategies the company is exploring is the use of a pulse oximeter, monitoring neurons’ consumption of oxygen to detect brain activity. Again, that’s still a ways off.

System - Problem - Input - AR - Company

“We don’t expect this system to solve the problem of input for AR anytime soon. It’s currently bulky, slow, and unreliable,” the company writes. “But the potential...
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