21 April 2017

High-speed noninvasive neurointerface

Facebook is working on a neural interface to radically change the way humans and machines interact

Maxim Agadzhanov, Geektimes

The Facebook social network improves and refines not only its own website and services. The company is also busy with other projects, for example, open hardware for data centers, Internet drones and other interesting things. The other day it became known about a new Facebook development, which is being conducted by the closed research group Building 8. Not much is known about the project, but the main thing to know is that we are talking about the neurointerface

The head of the division is Regina Dugan (by the way, the ex-head of DARPA and one of Google's research groups) she stated that the purpose of the company's work is to create an interface that allows you to track the simplest thought or decision of the "yes-no" type. Despite its apparent simplicity, such technology will be able to change the way people interact with technological products. According to Dugan, now all the forces of her group are thrown at this project. 

The developers describe what they are working on as a "neurocomputer mouse" controlled by thoughts. It can't do anything particularly complicated, just like an ordinary mouse, but this will be enough to simplify the interaction of man and technology. In addition, the same solution can be used in virtual reality to track the movements of the hands and other movements of the human body. Something similar is already being used by Microsoft in its HoloLens video boxes. In them, you can stretch your hand forward and make an imaginary "click on the mouse button". The mouse here is imaginary, but the action performed by a person is transformed by the glasses into a real signal for the PC. As a result, the computer software reacts as if a real mouse button was pressed. 

Virtual technology from Facebook can be useful, for example, for paralyzed or partially paralyzed people. They cannot click on the mouse button or work with the keyboard, but they can imagine such a click as much as they want. 

Dugan stressed that this is not about mind reading or "peeping." All the work of the system will be designed only to read a certain thought about a certain action, and that's it. "We plan to decipher the words that you have already decided to pronounce by sending them to the speech center of the brain," the official announcement says. - "Think of it as viewing many photos, among which you have chosen one to share with other people. Similarly, you have a lot of thoughts, among which you need to choose one." 

According to the company's representatives, it is the reading of thoughts that is the next generation technology. Speech, voice control – this is the last century. "Our brain generates and transmits in a second as much data as 4 HD movies"weighs", – says Mark Zuckerberg. – "The human brain can transmit about 1 terabit of data per second, while speech can be compared to a modem of the 80s of the last century, capable of transmitting and receiving 40-60 bits per second."

Regina Dugan during one of the performances

Facebook reminded users about the system developed by a group of scientists from Stanford. They were able to create a software and hardware platform that allows completely paralyzed people to type text with the help of thought, and the speed is quite high - about 8 words per minute (after training). According to Dugan, her company wants to create a system with which it will be possible to type about 100 words per minute. 

The project itself does not imply the use of invasive implants of any type. It's not about putting something into a person's brain. Specialists plan to work with the analysis of the electrical activity of the brain and the conversion of signals and the formation of images of active groups of neurons based on this analysis. The main element of the device for "reading thoughts" is likely to be a helmet with electrodes. So far, the specialists involved in the project are conducting research, and the practical implementation of the plan is still far away.

Facebook employs more than 60 scientists and engineers from a variety of companies and organizations, including Berkeley University, Johns Hopkins Hospital and others. 

The plans for the next two years are to create a prototype of a working device that will be tested during clinical trials. The long–term goal is to create a non-invasive "neurohelmet" that can be used under normal conditions.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  21.04.2017

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