Facebook concluded its two-day F8 annual conference Wednesday where it announced its plan over the next 10 years. The Menlo Park-based company will be investing in a number of foundational technologies including connectivity, artificial intelligence, and virtual and augmented reality.
But what is most interesting is Facebook’s investment into building a brain-computer interface that will let users type using their mind. Once developed, brain-computer interfaces could let people control augmented reality and virtual reality experiences with their mind instead of a screen.
“We are working on a system that will let people type with their brains. Specifically, we have a goal of creating a silent speech system capable of typing 100 words per minute straight from your brain – that’s five times faster than you can type on a smartphone today,” Facebook said on its official blog Wednesday.
Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s R&D division Building 8, explained in another post titled “The after action report” that the goal is to eventually allow people to type at 100 words per minute, which is 5X faster than typing on a phone, with just their mind.
“Our brains produce enough data to stream 4 HD movies every second. The problem is that the best way we have to get information out into the world -- speech -- can only transmit about the same amount of data as a 1980s modem. 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,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post soon after the announcement at the event.
At the event, Facebook revealed it has a team of 60 engineers working on building its ambitious brain-computer interface.
Facebook has also announced its collaboration with UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
During the conference, Dugan showed a video of a paralyzed medical patient at Stanford who could type using the mind thanks to an implanted sensor. She went on to explain how Facebook wants to do this without surgical implants.
Facebook hired Dugan last year to lead its new project Building 8 research lab. She previously headed Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects group and was formerly a head of U.S. Department of Defense's DARPA.