Facebook Inc.'s research unit Building 8 is working to make it possible for people to type using signals from their brains.
Regina Dugan, hired from Alphabet Inc. last year to oversee the lab, said that within “a few years' time” Facebook aims to develop a system that can type at 100 words per minute, just from monitoring the brain, without using any kind of implant. The company is working with outside academics on the issue now.
This would give “the ability to text a friend without taking out your phone,” Dugan said Wednesday at the social network operator's F8 developer conference. The lab also is working on a way for people to hear through their skin.
“One day, not so far away, it may be possible for me to think in Mandarin and for you to feel it instantly in Spanish,” Dugan said.
Far-fetched as it may sound, Dugan said researchers have already found it possible to use brain waves for typing at eight words per minute.
It's one of many Facebook initiatives for the very long term. For its more near-term goal of making videos and images more immersive, Facebook unveiled a design for two new three-dimensional cameras. The cameras will be given to some filmmakers and partners to help create more 3-D video content.
For Facebook, the research connects to its overall goals because it relates to improving people's social experiences, Dugan said. It could also make it possible for those who are deaf or otherwise disabled to communicate more easily.