AlterEgo, the headset that can hear you think

AlterEgo, the headset that can hear you think

At first glance, this funny device to hang on his ear and along his jaw is reminiscent of a new-generation hands-free kit. It is actually a device that can “read minds” and control a computer from a distance. Developed by Arnav Kapur, a graduate student from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, the AlterEGo ​​headset retranscribes the words that its user “verbalizes” in his head, without him saying them aloud. For this, four electrodes placed on the device detect the neuromuscular signals of the jaw and face, triggered by internal verbalization. Clearly, when one “speaks in his head”, electrical impulses occur on the surface of the skin. Undetectable by the human eye, these signals are spotted by the device, then transmitted to an Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven to associate certain signals to particular words. 92% success “Remember when you learned to read. At first you uttered the words aloud, then you learned to express them silently and silently … Speaking silently is a conscious effort to say a word, characterized by subtle movements of speech-related organs, explains MIT on his website. “This process causes signals from your brain to your muscles that are picked up as neuromuscular signals and processed by our device.” The researchers tested their prototype on 10 subjects, each of whom spent about 15 minutes adapting the application to their own “neuropsychology” and then 90 minutes using it to perform calculations. In this experiment, the system had an average transcription accuracy of about 92%. According to Arnav Kapur, the more the system is used, the more precision it will gain. Choose a movie “by telepathy” The capabilities of the AlterEgo open multiple perspectives. During the MIT experiments, the headset helped users solve computational problems or gave them the time through a “silent request”. In a video where he wears his own prototype, Arnav Kapur shows that he can navigate remotely on a streaming platform like Netflix, or automatically record the price of the products he chooses in a store. In its final version, the device could allow to communicate with connected assistants who are currently landing on the market, such as Amazon’s Alexa speaker or Google Assistant. Professional applications? This ability to “read minds”, however, could be a hindrance at a time when the public is concerned about breaches of personal data protection. On its website, MIT wants to reassure on this question in advance: “The system has no direct access to brain activity and can not read a user’s thoughts. […] He only reads the words deliberately pronounced silently “. Wearing a device that is as restrictive and unattractive on the face could also cool the ardor of interested potential, as had been the case for Google Glass, whose the consumer version was discontinued in 2015.
However – and just as Google Glass, who have reoriented themselves to business needs – AlterEgo could be useful for professionals in noisy environments, suggests Thad Starner, Professor at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing. “For example, the control of aircraft on the tarmac at the airport, places with a lot of machines, like a power plant,” he suggests. The expert, who worked on the Google Glass, also cites trades where masks of protection as a fighter pilot or fireman. Leila Marchand

Leave a comment

Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.