Researchers at the US MIT University have created the first device that can “hear” the inner voice in a man’s mind and record it on a computer.
The white plastic device named AlterEgo, worn on the head, uses four electrodes applied to the skin to “read” the mind and the inner voice that all people have, even when they look silent outside. The electrodes can “catch” the faint neuro-muscular signals created on the face and the jaw when a person speaks to himself.
As words circulate in his mind, the artificial intelligence system of the device can associate the slightly different neuromuscular signals with the different words corresponding to them. The words are then sent to a computer and translated into phrases.
In fact, the myo-electric prosthetic device is in a dialogue with the human being, since it can answer questions that someone makes from within. Silently, she thinks of a question and AlterEgo answers it -or, ultimately, aspires to answer it– as the system still needs improvement.
In this way, a person in the future could simply “google” with his thoughts, asking questions and waiting for answers always in his mind. It sounds magical, but this is the promise of AlterEgo, according to “New Scientist” and “Gardian”.
The device is yet another step towards a world where people will interact with machines only with their thoughts. AlterEgo’s creators envision a future in which you do not have to type something in Google’s search engine, not even ask the question with the “OK Google” voice command, but it will make it purely mentally.
As head researcher Abrah Kappur of the MIT Media Lab lab, said:
“Our idea was: can we have a computational platform that is more in-house, that mixes man and machine in some way and which looks like an internal expansion of our own mind?”
Researchers, who feature AlterEgo as ‘Enhanced Intelligence Device’, first introduced it to an artificial intelligence conference in Tokyo. So far, as ten tests with ten volunteers have been called to say phrases with up to 20 words and numbers, the device has an average accuracy of 92% in the transcription of the inner voice. This percentage is expected to increase in the future, as is the range of the internal vocabulary that can be read.
The ultimate goal is a system that allows the user to comfortably communicate with personal digital assistants (Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri etc.) in silent mode, which sounds like science fiction, but it seems not.
The problem is that users should wear the device on their heads, which may prevent the device from becoming popular. On the other hand, researchers see practical applications of this pioneering technology in other fields such as the army and industry, where people are forced to be in noisy environments and are better communicating silently than with their voice.
©AlterEgo: Interfacing with devices through silent speech