Digitizing Human Thoughts

May, 2018

The need for humans to multitask in different situations has made it necessary to have a device that can communicate with the user in a seamless manner without any voice requirement or external assistance from other people.

A prototype headset designed by students at MIT Media Lab named AlterEgo can read a user’s thoughts by making use of internal verbalization. It picks up neuromuscular signals to identify words and uses bone conduction headphones to convey responses. It consists of a mic placed in front of the lips and neck with electrodes that can pick up miniscule electrical signals generated by internal muscle motions to record user's silent conversation with oneself. This silent-speech interface can convey information to the user without interrupting his/her auditory experience. The system has an average transcription accuracy of close to 90% after training.

The Distinctive Attributes of the Device include:

  • An intelligent augmentation device: The headset can read user’s mind by picking up sub vocalization with the help of electrodes that can detect neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face. It can decode task which the user has in the mind and wants to perform by automatically transcribing words without anyone speaking aloud.

  • Augmenting human cognition: The device’s ability to interface human brain with computer makes it easy to read user thoughts. It also gives the device an edge to comfortably host multiple applications to help directly control mind and its information.

  • Personalized silent speech interface: The device has inbuilt silent speech interface to allow users to provide arbitrary text input using natural language. The user can communicate with their computing devices without explicitly saying anything or using any action.

  • Enables control over home appliances and devices: The headset device can interface and recognize multiple electronic devices at home. The user can control the interfaced devices using the headset by only expressions and perform functions like book Uber to home by automatically reading user’s current destination.

  • Interfaces two humans: The device can be used as a silent channel to communicate with another person. The device has provision to internally communicate with more than 4 people without speaking a word, only through expressions. Further, the device is capable of designing customized applications that can cater to specific tasks.

The Last Word

The human and machine combination has surpassed successive iterations enabling computing devices to become intrinsic parts of human lives. The silent speech integrator is very useful for people who want to communicate with multiple devices including computers, applications and people without any one saying things or taking loud. The device extends to human intelligence capability to solve everyday problems as it is primarily used by individuals for personal purposes.

Pavan Mudholkar,
Infoholic Research