A couple of weeks ago at F8 – Facebook’s annual developer conference – it was announced that a team of 60 engineers were hard at work on a brain-computer interface. The plan is to use optical imaging to scan your brain at a hundred times per second and translate your thoughts to text. The goal is to allow people to type 100 words a minute, using only the mind – five times faster than typing on a phone.
It sounds like the stuff of sci-fi movies or William Gibson novels, but much progress has already been made on brain-computer interfaces. At the conference, a video showed a paralysed patient who can type thanks to an implanted sensor. Facebook intends to go one further and develop a non-implanted, shippable device that’s available for use by all. Translation: a brain-reading techno hat.
Don’t worry (they tell us), the device won’t delve deep into our thoughts, but instead decode the words we’ve already decided to share by sending them to the speech centre of the brain. Hopefully then, there’ll be no chance of your real thoughts appearing as a comment on that selfie you’ve just seen on your Facebook timeline. Welcome to the future, kids.