Health Care

Facebook is developing a tech to read human brain along with UoC

Facebook envisions a future in which people will be able to type out words and send messages using only their minds with Project Moonshot. Researchers temporarily implanted high-density electrocorticography (ECoG) arrays into the brains of epilepsy patients analyze their brain activity. The device, it said, will help patients with neurological damage speak again "by detecting intended speech from brain activity in real-time".

The research was funded under the Sponsored Academic Research Agreement with Facebook, which announced a "typing-by-brain" project in 2017. The brain-reading interface is coming closer to its testing phase.

The upshot was that the brain interface mapping software, after being trained hearing the questions and responses, learned to identify the words with brain signals.

According to Facebook, the project was announced back in 2017 with the sole goal to decode silent speech and soon, the social media giant joined forces with researchers at the University of California in San Francisco to conduct this experiment.

More information is available on the UCSF website, while the team's paper has been published under open access terms in the journal Nature Communications.

The acceleration comes, Moses explains, by pairing a novel set of machine learning algorithms with context data to help narrow the range of likely solutions to the transcription problem.

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"Most previous approaches have focused on decoding speech alone", Prof Eddie Chang said, "but here we show the value of decoding both sides of a conversation - both the questions someone hears and what they say in response". And they were speaking answers aloud, not simply thinking them. The study's subjects - who were being prepped for epilepsy surgery - used highly invasive implants. They were asked questions like "How is your room now?".

"While measuring oxygenation may never allow us to decode imagined sentences, being able to recognize even a handful of imagined commands, like 'home, ' 'select, ' and 'delete, ' would provide entirely new ways of interacting with today's VR systems - and tomorrow's AR glasses", Facebook writes in a statement.

Facebook wants to use the project to decode the brain activity of people who can not communicate by speaking.

Doctors at the University of California hoped to create a product that could enable people living with paralysis to communicate more easily than existing devices, which pick up eye movements and muscle twitches to control a virtual keyboard, the British newspaper reports.

Now, a team of scientists has built on that work and accelerated it to real-time transcription - meaning it is possible, in theory at least, for the system to decode speech from brain waves as the subject is attempting to talk.

"We just need the technology to allow them to express it".

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