Researchers from MIT have developed a new wearable device that essentially reads the mind of users who undertake deliberate speech-based thoughts. The AlterEgo headset senses a user’s internal voice and answers queries with no externally verbalised communication, only internal thoughts of speech.
Arnav Kupar, who directed the development of the technology, says that the ear-and-chin-strap system works by detecting neuromuscular signals from the brain when the user articulates words internally. These thoughts are then fed into a computer that has the capability to respond to the user’s question.
Initial trials showed that the AlterEgo system had an average transcription accuracy of 92%, which is slightly lower than Google’s voice translation device. Developers however are working to increase its capabilities and foresee potential applications for human-machine communication in loud environments such as military aircraft carriers or industrial settings.
The human-machine interface also opens the possibility of a “second self” AI that assists the user with background intelligence. So forget Siri. The next time you’re chatting with friends and wishing you could quickly answer a question without having to “Google it”, the AlterEgo device might be the new best gadget.
Image: Lorrie Lejeune/MIT
This story is taken from the 13 April 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.