The future has arrived and not even your thoughts have a chance at privacy.
Researchers at MIT have developed a device that can read your mind. It’s called the AlterEgo, and it’s designed to pick up your thoughts when you purposefully use “internal verbalizations,” according to the MIT News Office. Not only can the AlterEgo hear your internal voice and transcribe your thoughts, but it’s designed to be able to interact with other devices based on your thought commands.
Arnav Kapur, the MIT graduate student who led the development of AlterEgo, told the MIT News Office that the headset is “an intelligence-augmentation device,” and said he and his team approached development by asking how they could create “a computing platform that’s more internal, that melds human and machine in some ways and that feels like an internal extension of our own cognition?”
The AlterEgo fits over the wearer’s ear and sits along their throat, just under their jaw, with another, smaller piece that sits in the groove between their mouth and chin. Embedded in these pieces are electrodes, which will “pick up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalizations but are undetectable to the human eye,” according to the MIT News Office. Neuromuscular signals from a user will be fed into a neural network that is trained by researchers “to identify [a fundamental set of] subvocalized words from neuromuscular signals, but it can be customized to a particular user,” the MIT News Office reported.
AlterEgo users will also have a pair of bone-conduction headphones, and their function is basically straight out of a 007 movie. The MIT News Office reported that “Because they don’t obstruct the ear canal, the headphones enable the system to convey information to the user [by transmitting vibrations through the bones of their face to their inner ear] without interrupting a conversation or otherwise interfering with the user’s auditory experience.”
The end goal of all this is a device through which you can communicate with the various devices around you, completely silently, and receive information in response.
The AlterEgo isn’t ready for commercial use yet, it’s shown some pretty impressive capabilities. The MIT News Office reported that researchers conducted a study with the AlterEgo’s prototype, and results indicated the AlterEgo has an average transcription accuracy of 92 percent — which will improve as researchers collect more training data for the neural network, Kapur told the MIT News Office.
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Photo and video credit: MIT media lab on YouTube, Hayneedle, mysterious lady