MIT Researchers Develop a Device Able to “Hear And Respond To Your Thoughts”

3 mins read

Enthusiasts from MIT created a device that can hear your thoughts. That is right, you don’t need to vocalize what you think for the gadget to understand you. The gadget is attached to your jaw and clipped over your ear and it can “read” what you are saying by picking the neuromuscular signals from the electrodes on your skin. 

Such headset is an example of the so-called intelligence augmentation (IA) and it was presented at International Conference on Intelligent User Interface which was held in Tokyo. What does it mean? IA is a new way to represent Artificial Intelligence. Despite the popular belief that artificial intelligence is going to replace human beings, this type of AI is aimed to have an assertive role, which is why the researchers have created a new, neutral term for it. Earlier, we have mentioned a breakthrough in modern science where Artificial Intelligence learned to train itself by making mistakes thus becoming more human-like.

The name of the device, AlterEgo, is self-explanatory: derived from Latin, alter ego means “another self” or “a trusted friend”.

This gadget is intended to perform different tasks required by a user, calculations which we usually make in our head, and many more useful features. You can tell a machine anything by the means of subvocalization and no one will hear you. The researchers have performed several experiments with the agents saying internally the same thing several times to detect which facial locations provide most accurate information.

AlterEgo technology device is reported to have taken part into several experiments. On the video below we can observe that the headset “hears” your internal vocalization and helps you, for example, calculate the total sum of your groceries in the store with a bone conduction speaker.

Another example reported by MIT representative and project leader Arnav Kapur includes assisting a player in his chess game. In this way, the subject was reporting silently his opponent’s moves and as silently receiving the moves advisable by AlterEgo. 

Of course, this thing looks like a strange medical device at first, but due to its construction, AlterEgo doesn’t obstruct your inner ear canal so it allows you to hear the environment clearly. You can have a talk with your friends and hear what the gadget is telling you at the same time. From now on, if an idea comes to your mind, you don’t have to interrupt your conversation to take out your phone and look up the information you need in Google. AlterEgo delivers vibrations through your bones, so you can ask it something and continue talking with your friend at the same time.

The transcription accuracy is above 90% and MIT researchers are working on increasing this number. Kapur says that the system’s performance will be improving through collecting data during its ordinary usage. Basically, the more you use AlterEgo, the better it understands you. 

Arnav Kapur says that their paramount idea was to medle human and machinery in such a way that the latter serves as an extension of our own cognition. In such a way, the machine doesn’t replace a human, it is just an assistant to our everyday life. 

Such science fiction technology allows users to interface with such devices as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant in a more intimate manner so that no one listens to you. All the communication between the agent and the machine is performed silently with no outside interference. 

 The breakthrough gadget is claimed to have potential not only in the consumer market but also in industry. In future, it will be possible to work with difficult machinery using this headset. 

To summarize the information below, the new technology gives you an opportunity to use Voice Assistance technology in a loud environment such as on an airplane, in a public place or anywhere else where you usually feel too embarrassed to say “Ok, Google!” or “Hey, Siri!”.

And vice versa: AlterEgo can be a great assistant in silent environments where it is not advisable to say anything aloud. In such a way, it opens new possibilities for a military - it was already reported that the device is going to be worn by military men to improve their communication and environment awareness. Why just use military gestures when you can also transmit information to your companion through the headset?

Olha Polishchuk
Content manager
April 13, 2018
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