Facebook creates a “mindreading” technology that can tell from nerve signals what the wearer plans to do. (Source: Facebook)

Facebook Wristband Moves Signals from Brain to Wrist to Computer

After reading this article from Tanya Basu I felt like I had been catapulted into the future we always imagined it might be like as kids. Well, kids, some of that future has arrived.

And Facebook has more announcements planned for even more exciting additions to their toy list

Facebook says it has created a wristband that translates motor signals from your brain so you can move a digital object just by thinking about it.

How does it work? The wristband, which looks like an iPod on a strap, uses sensors to detect movements you intend to make. It uses electromyography (EMG) to interpret electrical activity from motor nerves as they send information from the brain to the hand. The company says the unnamed device would let you navigate augmented reality menus by just thinking about moving your finger to scroll.

A quick refresher on AR: It overlays information on your view of the real world, whether it’s data, maps, or other images. The most successful experiment in augmented reality was Pokémon Go, which took the world by storm in 2016 as players crisscrossed neighborhoods in search of elusive Pokémon characters. That initial promise has faded over the intervening years, however, as companies have struggled to translate the technology into something appealing, light and usable. Google Glass and Snap Spectacles failed to spark interest. Facebook thinks its wristband is more user-friendly.

Does it work the way Facebook claims? The product is still in research and development at the company’s internal Facebook Reality Labs. No word yet on when it will be released or how much it will cost. It remains to be seen if it will capture the public’s imagination.

Years in the making: Facebook acquired startup CTRL-labs in September 2019 for between $500 million and $1 billion. CTRL had been working on its own wrist-based EMG device, and its head, Thomas Reardon, who is now the director of Neuromotor Interfaces at Facebook Reality Labs. At the press preview,

Reardon said the device was “not mind control.” He added, “This is coming from the part of the brain that controls motor information, not thought.”

The AR play: The announcement is the second in a series of three that have been planned to set out the company’s position in augmented reality. On March 9, Facebook announced that its glasses would be responsive to immediate surroundings—walking past your favorite coffee shop might trigger the glasses to ask if you want to place an order. Facebook will reveal its haptic gloves and other wearables later in 2021.

Another privacy pitfall? Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has aggressively invested in augmented and virtual reality, recognizing that products like these can mean access to countless valuable data points. In the café example above, the company (and advertisers) could find out what kind of coffee you prefer, where you live, as well as other demographic information. Given the company’s history of not respecting privacy, there’s reason to be skeptical.

We found this article at tecnologyreview.com, an online voice for MIT.

One very large concern would be hacking. Having a hacker in someone’s mind control device would be troubling, to say the least.

read more at technologyreview.com