Flickr user Christoph Scholz (no changes made)

Zuckerberg discusses Facebook’s brain-reading wearables ambition

Facebook CEO Mark ZucKerberg says brain-reading wearables will become commonplace in the future. Some of these may even be implanted inside the human body.

Essential reading: Mindfullness technology, train your brain with one of these gadgets

Speaking to Dr. Joe DeRisi and Dr. Steve Quake of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub he said:

“The goal is to eventually make it so that you can think something and control something in virtual or augmented reality.”

To this end the social media giant has recently acquired CTRL-labs. The purchase of the neural interface startup went through a few weeks ago. The deal is estimated by Bloomberg to be worth between $500 million and $1bn, making it Facebook’s biggest acquisition since the $2bn purchase of Occulus VR back in 2014.

CTRL-Labs is most well known for its mind-reading wristband. It is capable of translating electrical signals from the brain into software inputs. The startup is also working on a armband that does the same by looking at signals from the spinal cord and muscle activity.

Zuckerberg says such devices will eventually be used by people to control devices with their mind. However, those with physical limitations such as lack of motor neurons will need to implant the technology.

“I have enough neural capacity in my motor neurons to probably control another extra hand, it’s just a matter of training that and then they can pick up those signals off of the wrist,” Zuckerberg said.

“But if your ability to translate things that are going on in your brain into motor activity is limited then you need something implanted.”

There are, of course, challenges to overcome when developing this type of technology. Needless to say, there are health risks that come with implanting foreign things in the body. But such wearables and implanteables have the potential to improve the quality of life, particularly for people with limited physical or speech abilities.

Once the CTRL-labs deal is finalised the plan is for the outfit to merge with Facebook’s Reality Labs. This is the part of the company tasked with developing augmented-reality glasses. No time-frames have been mentioned on any of this but we can look forward to a not-too-distant future when brain reading wearables become commonplace.

In fact there already are some devices capable of hacking your brainwaves. They reside outside the body, can read EEG waveforms and come in the form of biofeedback headsets. This includes Muse 2, Thync, MindWave, Unyte and Flowtime, all of which are predominantly used for enhancing a user’s meditation.

Source: The Verge

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