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Facebook Aims at Mind-Reading AR Goggles

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Gabriela Patrón
ByPor Gabriela Patrón

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In July, the tech tycoon Elon Musk surprised the world by giving more details about the advances of NeuraLink, his project to connect computers to the human brain. But the Tesla creator’s ambitious augmented reality proposal isn’t the first industry project looking to achieve this human-machine symbiosis. In fact, another tech world genius recently revealed his own proposal. 

Mark Zuckerberg announced the newest news of Facebook and other companies in charge of a yearly developer meeting, known as F8. In this presentation, he also gave a small sample of new Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies. In the conference’s 2017 edition, the multimillionaire announced a project to create a brain-machine interface. The final goal of the job is, in the words of Zuckerberg, to create a system capable of “decoding the silent language,” in a  non-invasive way that doesn’t need to implant electrodes in the brain. 

A few weeks back, Facebook released this technology’s latest advancesResearchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) are in charge of the job and findings were published in an article by Nature Communications. The experiment was done on patients with epilepsy that were already programmed for a brain surgery. 

Researchers were able to create an algorithm capable of recognizing a number of real-time words and phrases in the patients’ brain activity. Although this development is still far from an advanced reading, they hope to soon be able to recognize a more complete vocabulary, and with a minimal margin of error. 

How will this technology be applied in Augmented Reality? 

Facebook aims for its UCSF research findings to be used to recognize key mental phrases, in order to later apply in gadget control. In other words, in the future, the company hopes to control equipment like computers and smartphones, without having to physically interact with them. “Being able to imagine commands like “Home,” “Select,” and “Delete,” may open new ways of interacting with modern VR systems and future Augmented Reality goggles,” assures Facebook in its press release. 

Michael Abrash, Scientific Director Científico of Facebook Reality Labs (FRL), commented that “we are facing the shores of the next big wave of computation directed towards humans. It’s one in which the combination of Virtual and Augmented Reality converge, and revolutionize how we interact with the world around us.” 

Although technology is still far from the planted ideal, we must consider its ethical implications. Each person has the right to count on his/her privacy of information. Giving to a business, whichever it may be, either partial or complete access to the mind may jeopardize this right in the name of technological innovation. It’s necessary to establish limits and form security models. However, according to experts, these Augmented Reality goggles won’t be released within the next 10 years.