Facebook has unveiled plans to develop technology that would enable users to type at 100 words per minute simply by marshalling their brainwaves.
The idea was unveiled at the company's F8 conference. Although techniques already exist for doing this, they require the 'typist' to undergo surgery first in order to have electrodes implanted and can only achieve around eight words per minute - slowly.
The mysterious ‘Building 8' project (Facebook's Google X) is working on an interface to make it possible to think your typing, according to head of Building 8 and former DARPA director Regina Dugan.
She believes the result could "fundamentally change" the way people interact with technology.
At the moment it's a pipe dream that would overcome some of the problems of virtual and augmented reality. After all, you can wear the headset but you can't type with it, and virtual keyboards are not without their own problems, hence the idea.
"Implanted electrodes simply won't scale," said Dugan. "We think optical imaging is the best place to start."
Facebook believes that the same technology could also be used to power devices for severely paralysed patients as a "speech prosthetic".
This is all a long way off, though.
After all, the current best for thought-to-speech is about eight words-per-minute, excluding the time it takes to fit the electrodes.
Facebook was also keen to point out this won't be some sort of horrific Black Mirror-style implant - this is an exercise in augmentation that won't monitor thoughts - or so Facebook would have you believe. No doubt companies in the defence sector would be keen to develop and sell their own versions of the technology to their special clients, too.
The team working on the project comes from a wide selection of trusted names in medicine, including John Hopkins Medicine and Applied Physics, Washington University School, UC San Francisco and US Berkeley.
It is hoped that a trial product aimed specifically at the medical and paralysis side of the project will be available within two years, although that sounds over-optimistic. MIT is already working on similar tech, as is Stanford.
As if that post-modern sense mashup wasn't enough to be getting on with, the company has also revealed it is working on a method of ‘hearing' through skin.
Resetting the telemetry circuits and associated boards brought the instrument back to operations mode
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