Think before you speak” is a common refrain. Facebook, on the other hand, is happy with you just thinking. The rest, it will do for you. The company, at its F8 conference, unveiled a project that works with just your thinking and would not require you to speak. Though voice-typing has been gaining currency, with Alexa, Siri, Google and Cortana all at your command, Facebook’s Building 8 is going to up the ante. The company on Tuesday announced that it was working on a project which would allow “brain typing”—all you need is to think the words and it will type them out for you at a speed of 100 words per minute.
Although the social media giant is not the first company to harness the brain signals—last year, the University of Florida held the world’s first brain-controlled drone race, involving pilots using thoughts to drive drones—the company’s reach will make adoption much faster and widespread, if Building 8 can do what it says. The current technology is certainly far from perfect from perfectly capturing human thought, even if implants enter the picture. And if is just “mapping brain signals and a disco-keyboard” kind of interface, the accuracy levels may not be too high.
But if Facebook is close enough, it may certainly have a market in people with disabilities willing to use the technology for various tasks. As for mass-adoption, the technology would have to go beyond thinking about a keyboard. Besides, it would also have to pass the test of people having wear helmets at all times—given the response to Google Glass, that may not be an easy task. Even if Facebook is able to perfect what no one else has—this would also require people to have coherent thoughts—and get people to wear the required head-gear, the question is would people want to share every thought of theirs on Facebook and, crucially, with Facebook. Already, most of our lives is lived on social media. Are we willing to let Facebook further in, into our minds?