Facebook is working to create a data input method that does not rely on a keyboard but instead allows the user to type directly from the brain.
The company made its intentions known in a two-day developer’s conference in San Jose, California, US.
During the conference, Regina Dugan, vice president of engineering unit, explained how the new data input method will function.
“In a few years time we expect to demonstrate a real-time silent speech system capable of delivering 100 words per minute or about five times faster than a person can type with a smartphone,” she said.
Dugan also heads Facebook’s hardware research unit known as building eight, which has more than 60 scientists and engineers working on the new keyboardless typing method.
The input method would enable users to send text messages or emails to a friend without taking out a smartphone to type.
Dugan also tried to calm consumers at the conference, saying the California-based social media giant is not aimed at detecting a person’s thoughts, but only what the person intends to type.
“We are not talking about decoding your random thoughts, that might be more than any of us cared to know,” she said.
Dugan referred to research at Stanford University, which has allowed a paralysed woman to type at about eight words per minute directly from her brain.
“But the current method requires invasive surgery in which an array of electrodes is implanted to receive data where the brain would normally control the person’s motor functions, that simply won’t scale, so we will need new non-invasive sensors,”. Dugan said, referring the surgery process.
“While the company may need years to produce a mass-scale device, any advances in the research have potential to be a huge breakthrough in human communications,” she said.
“Even something as simple as a yes-no brain click would fundamentally change our capability,” she added.
Facebook is considering wearables such as caps that can read data through the human skull.