(2018-08-01) Alter Ego Subvocal A New Device Can Hear Your Thoughts

A New Device Can Hear Your Thoughts. In early April, MIT research assistant Arnav Kapur, 24, uploaded a short video on YouTube. The clip showed him moving around campus in various settings wearing a white plastic contraption wrapped around the right side of his face. (SubVocal)

In its current incarnation, Kapur’s device — developed in collaboration with his brother Shreyas (an MIT undergrad), a few fellow grad students in the Fluid Interfaces department, and lead A.I. guru Professor Pattie Maes — is a 3D-printed wearable device outfitted with electromagnetic sensors that hugs one side of your jaw and, via Bluetooth, connects you with your what Maes calls your computer brain — the Internet’s massive web of information most of us access via smartphones some 80 times a day.

Kapur wants to perfect a device that allows users to communicate with A.I. as effortlessly as one’s left brain talks to one’s right brain, so that humans can integrate the power of the Internet into their thinking at every level.

when we read to ourselves, our inner articulatory muscles move, subconsciously forming the words we’re seeing. “When one speaks aloud, the brain sends electrical instructions to more than 100 muscles in your speech system,” he explains. Internal vocalization — what we do when we read silently to ourselves — is a highly attenuated version of this process, wherein only the inner speech muscles are neurologically triggered.

Eschewing earbuds, which he believes disrupt normal human behavior, he developed an aural feedback system through bone conduction; the device whispers answers to queries like a genius guardian angel.

So far, AlterEgo has a vocabulary of 100 words, including numbers from 1 to 9, and commands like add, subtract, reply, call.

If hooked up to biofeedback information such as heart rate, sweat biomarkers, and body temperature, she says, the device could anticipate behavior and send us subtle signals to encourage us to reach pre-programmed goals.


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