CNBC reports that Facebook has taken another step in developing its brain-computer interface, with the company’s Reality Labs division working alongside researchers from the University of California, San Francisco to develop a device that can decode speech directly from the human brain onto a screen. A new report published in the journal Nature Communications reveals that researchers are becoming closer than ever to connecting human brains directly to computers.
Researchers reportedly worked with three patients currently undergoing treatment for epilepsy in order to develop the device. The patients had electrodes implanted into their brains and researchers will spend the next year testing the technology. Researchers from UCSF stated that the findings of the research could help to give patients that are unable to speak due to severe brain injuries a new way to communicate.
But, researchers noted that successful trials are more likely to be used as part of Facebook’s efforts to develop augmented reality glasses. ” Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, Facebook vice president of AR/VR, said in a tweet: “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. Our progress shows real potential in how future inputs and interactions with AR glasses could one day look.”
The technology is not quite ready for widespread usage. “It’s currently bulky, slow, and unreliable,” Facebook said. “But the potential is significant, so we believe it’s worthwhile to keep improving this state-of-the-art technology over time.” Many other Silicon Valley companies are also researching computer-brain interfaces, with Elon Musk’s firm Neuralink working on a similar project.
Musk claimed at a recent event that the company expects to start human trials before the end of 2020.