Programmatic Lunch

Facebook is working on technology that enables typing using brain power

Tyrone Stewart

Facebook has revealed that it is working on technology that will enable people to use their brains alone to control computers.

This is what Facebook’s secretive Building 8 hardware group has been working on, as predicted when it began hiring brain computer interface engineers earlier this year. However, the development of the technology, which requires no invasive surgery, is in its early stages.

“So, what if you could type directly from your brain? It sounds impossible, but it’s closer than you realise. And it’s just the kind of fluid human/computer interface needed for AR. Even something as simple as a yes/no brain click would fundamentally change our capability. A brain mouse for AR,” said Regina Dugan, VP of engineering at Facebook and head of Building 8, at Facebook’s F8 developer conference.

“A silent-speech interface. One with all the speed and flexibility of voice, but with the privacy of typed text. Better yet, with the ability to text a friend without taking out your phone or to send a quick email without missing the party. No more false choices.”

Building 8’s goal is to create a system capable of typing at 100 words per minute – five times faster than people can type on their smartphones – straight from people’s brains.

“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,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post

“Technology is going to have to get a lot more advanced before we can share a pure thought or feeling, but this is a first step.”