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Augmented Reality Glasses from Facebook Might be Capable of Reading Minds

Facebook is aiming to bring a revolution to the domain of mind-reading technology with its latest development concept, which can have a substantial impact on its AR glasses.

Facebook recently released the first major update about research on its brain-computer interface, which was first showcased during 2017 at the F8 conference. According to Facebook, the objective of the development process is forming a system to discern silent speech without brain electrode implants.

According to a new report published in Nature, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco working with Facebook on the project, have made significant progress towards the objective. They were collaborating with epilepsy patients already undergoing brain surgery. An algorithm was designed to unravel sets of phrases and words by real-time brain activity reading.

Facebook acknowledges that collaborating with brain surgery patients is still a far cry from the non-invasive approach it intends to use. Facebook Reality Labs, the VR and AR research wing of the company, is attempting alternative methods. A particular method involves brain oxygen level monitoring to identify brain activity, with the use of a portable wearable device designed with user-grade components.


According to Facebook, the system is heavy, unreliable and sluggish currently. However, the technology can be used by the company in its prospective augmented reality glasses and virtual reality headsets.

Facebook gave more insight into the development in a recent statement. The company acknowledged that measuring oxygen levels may not be practical for discerning imaginary sentences. Yet, the technology can be used to recognise a series of imagined commands like ‘select’, ‘home’ and ‘delete’. This ability can facilitate newer methods of interaction with existing virtual reality systems and augmented reality glasses.


The statement by Facebook delved deeper into the ideas incorporated for the development. Facebook stressed the impact of LiDAR and smartphone optical technology commercialisation on its project. It revealed that these industry developments have helped them create accessible and small brain-control interface (BCI) devices. The newly developed BCI systems can be used for gauging neural signals that are proximal to the ones recorded by electrode implants present. Facebook also expressed hope that the technology might be used for silent speech interpretation in the future.


This latest development can have a heavy impact on the development of the planned AR glasses from Facebook. As of now, not much information is available about the augmented reality glasses. Back in 2017, Michael Abrash, chief scientist at Oculus, had expressed that AR glasses could take 5 or 10 years to develop. A few patent filings since then have revealed bits and pieces of information regarding the glasses. Practical implementation of mind-reading abilities into the glasses may take nearly a decade from now to perfect.


There are certain concerns related to this development as Facebook was recently hit with a giant fine of $5 billion for user privacy violations. So, the same company having the capability of reading thoughts might seem a bit discouraging. Scientists at Reality Labs are already exploring the ethical aspects of the new technology.

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