Facebook Reality Labs division recently showcased Facebook’s latest prototype technologies in a virtual media interaction. A mind-reading wrist device and an augmented reality keyboard have been unveiled that would allow users to replace both the mouse and keyboard in future hardware products. This technology was acquired by Facebook when it spent more than $500 million to buy a startup called CTRL-Labs back in September 2019. Focused research into cutting-edge neuroscience has reportedly led the company into previously uncharted territory, including funding brain surgeries at a California hospital heralding the potential use of brain-computer interfaces in helping treat medical conditions.
The wrist-worn device displayed above can read the neurological signals sent from the brain of the user down to their hands. This high-tech device can intuitively read these signals and determine what the user intends to do. It can then replicate that imagined action in any virtual reality environment.
According to a Stanford University neuroscientist named Krishna Shenoy who works in an advisory capacity at CTRL-Labs, electrical activity in the muscles can be recorded by the device “at a remarkably detailed level” and it can also capture movement signals “from multiple fingers and with very little actual movement at all.”
The company also demonstrated electromyography wristbands, which users could use to type on any surface like an invisible keyboard. These EMG wristbands can capture electrical signals in the muscles used to register the user’s finger movements and record the corresponding letters and words being typed.
Facebook says that it plans to focus on such neural interface devices going forward. Eventually, these devices could be used to develop things like high-speed typing based primarily on brain signals.
The company also says that it now plans to open-source the software developed for brain decoding and also provide access to prototype devices, so other researchers can also benefit from its work.