Facebook has finally unveiled the first two projects from its secretive Building 8 during the Facebook F8 last Wednesday, April 19, 2017. One of the projects is a technology that allows people to type with their brains, while the other is a technology that allows hearing vibrations on the skin.
According to a report from CNET, the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Building 8 in last year's F8 developer conference. The building is where Facebook is working on potentially groundbreaking projects that could reshape Facebook's future and how people communicate.
The report said the company didn't provide much detail on what they were working on, only providing hints that Building 8 is focused on the "seemingly impossible" hardware in virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and so on. But now some of the secrecy is already out with two projects they are working on.
One of the projects is a "brain-to-computer interface," which is basically a tech that will allow people's brains to communicate directly with a computer. This project is something that Zuckerberg already envisioned two years ago.
"One day, I believe we'll be able to send full, rich thoughts to each other directly using technology," he said during a Q&A two years ago. Building 8 is creating something similar to it, which is a system that will allow people to type 100 words a minute on a computer by just thinking about it.
The Verge reports that Regina Dugan, a former director of DARPA and the former head of Google's ATAP research group and now the head of Facebook's potentially groundbreaking efforts, says the technology is like a brain mouse for AR. It means the tech would be able to receive direct inputs from the neural activity without the need for AR to track body movements.
The report adds that Dugan said the technology won't be invading people's minds, it would just decode the words that people "already decided to share by sending them to the speech centre" of their brains. There's already a blueprint for the technology as Facebook said researchers at Stanford have already created a system to allow a paralysed patient type eight words per minute with only her thoughts.
But that system was done with an invasively implanted electrode array, and Facebook is looking for something that won't need any implants. Dugan says optical imaging is where they will start with the project. Check out the video below for more about the Facebook F8.