Facebook is taking mind reading from sci-fi to reality

Facebook has unveiled a project from its secretive Building 8 research group that’s working to create a brain-computer interface that lets you type with your thoughts.

The social media giant announced during day two of its F8 developer conference that its Building 8 hardware lab is working on technology that will one day allow users to type with your thoughts and hear through your skin.

Our brains, along with the cochleas in our ears, possess the power to reconstruct language from components, and Facebook is looking at hardware and software to transmit those components to the body via pressure changes and vibrations. During the day 2 keynote, the company demonstrated a video of one of its engineers repeating words communicated to her through sensors embedded in a sleeve on her arm. Simple words, like “blue” or “cube,” were sent through a smartphone, and the engineer was able to understand without a single word being uttered.

The concept may seem crazy at first glance, until you consider the work that has already been done in the field, dating as far back as the development of Braille in the 19th century. Facebook is building upon that foundation, with the ultimate goal for one person to be able to “think in Mandarin,” and someone else to instantly “feel in Spanish.”

However, the social media company is well aware of the privacy questions that will inevitably surface with this initiative.

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