Technology seems to know everything about us from our web browsing habits to products we commonly purchase, and even the number of steps we take each day. Facebook has created a technology that now goes inside of our brains themselves. The tech giant has created an interface that translates brain signals into audible words.
The Creation of the Latest Technology
The research and development of this innovative technology took place at the University of California San Francisco and was financed by Facebook. The results of the study were published in the research journal, Nature Communications Paper. Participants included three human epilepsy patients undergoing treatment at UCSF Medical Center.
The software created essentially reads the signals from your brain to determine what you have heard in a conversation and what to say in response without any review of audio. High-density electrocorticography is used for this process. It requires sensors to be implanted in the brain, which may raise some concerns over privacy, to say the least.
The research began with participants in a study listening to pre-recorded questions and then giving responses verbally. The participants were then put into a situation where they performed a task while hearing and verbally answering a question. During these tests, researchers used neural signals to detect when someone was listening or speaking. This data will be used to train models to understand what they said and heard in dialogue.
Results and Uses
Currently, the software correctly detects perceived questions 76% of the time and the response at 61%. The development is revolutionary in that it allows people to converse in real-time, without the need to search through pre-programmed responses as in some text to talk technologies.
One of the goals with this innovation is to help people who are paralyzed or have some other medical condition in which they cannot speak. Decoding their brain signals using sensors implanted in the brain would allow them to have a voice. These brain-computer interfaces have already shown early success in testing methods where people used their brain signals to move a prosthetic limb.
While the new technology would inevitably be a benefit for those without the ability to properly speak, that use case has only scratched the surface. The overarching goal is for consumers everywhere to be able to control their digital devices using their thoughts.
Joining Other Devices that Give Speech to the Speechless
Facebook’s latest development is one of several that aim to give people with medical disabilities the chance to communicate. A program known as VocaliD came about in recent years to offer unique voices to be used on computers.
Many people who use this form of communication must use the pre-programmed voice, that is commonly an adult voice and many times male. VocaliD is a Voicebank that allows people to donate their voice by recording themselves speaking up to thousands of sentences. These words are then stored for someone else to use as their voice.
An eye-tracking technology created by Comcast allows for those who are disabled to operate a television by using their eyes. Sensors with infrared light read high-frame rate images of a user’s eyes and process details and patterns to create an algorithm that will calculate and eye’s position on a monitor. These are only some of the communication improvements that have come from advances in the tech industry.
New Devices Means New Data
With Facebook’s privacy reputation being less than impressive, critics are concerned about the implications of allowing the company to fund sensors that must be attached to the brain. If these innovations extend to the average consumer, concerns of even more targeted advertising and insecure data collection are rising. The more data that is stored, the greater the need for a secure storage solution for it all, especially when dealing with medical records.
A hardware-encrypted SecureDrive eliminates data leaks and requires authentication through either PIN or wireless authentication through a mobile device. Our Secure Forensics team is also prepared to investigate data breaches and intellectual property theft cases like those in cutting-edge research. To learn about any of our services or products, call 1-800-388-1266.