Facebook are Working on a Mind-operated Typing Interface

Technology has taken big steps forward in recent years and it was inevitable that at some point the interest would turn to finding ways to operate it using the brain; mind control - literally.

Imagine how convenient it would be to get things done without having to physically do or say anything. Most of that still lies in the realms of a science-fiction novel, but during a showing at their London engineering site, Facebook proved that progress is actually being made in one area.

Typing with your mind.

It's still in the very early stages of development and potentially wouldn't become accessible to the public for many years, though the corporation have successfully trialled the technology with a patient who suffers from Locked-In Syndrome.

The system functioned by recording the flow of neurons through electrodes attached to the patient's brain. Whenever she pictured a cursor moving over a digital keyboard, the technology associated the movement with the corresponding letters on the keyboard. The woman, whose mental awareness is uninhibited despite being physically incapable of communicating, was able to write at a pace of eight words per minute via her brainwaves.

Facebook are hoping to increase the number of words per minute to 100 when it's eventually released for commercial use.

The expectations are set pretty high, especially considering that the average person can only type around forty words per minute. In order to develop technology that can reliably convert brain activity to such a high level from what their prototype currently manages, a lot more time will need to be invested into the project.

It's unknown if people will be expected to have sensors attached to their head to use the technology once it goes public, and if so whether that would just be the initial product while they work on a more convenient, wireless design. Considering social media platforms like Facebook are constantly developing their apps to improve their ease of use, a wired connection to your brain doesn't scream efficiency.

Perhaps implants are in our future. How sci-fi does that sound?

A lot of effort will need to be put into the technology to ensure the safety and privacy of people using it. Social networks can be notorious for rousing public concern over the violation of their privacy, so reluctance to get an implant for such use wouldn't be surprising. Facebook and any other companies hoping to develop similar technology need to remember there's more involved with the process than just creating the software.

The core technology required to achieve relationship between brain activity and typing does actually exist, but the understanding of how to effectively use it is still out of reach. Given how important technology and social media have become in our society, the use of our minds to update our social feeds seems a pretty likely scenario somewhere down the line. For now though, we'll just have to settle with using our thumbs to let everyone know what we're doing with our day.

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