Mark Zuckerberg wants a wearable device that can read your thoughts to ‘control something in virtual or augmented reality’
- Mark Zuckerberg discussed Facebook’s goals for brain-reading tech
- A wearable that can read brains signals could be used in augmented reality
- The company bought brain-to-computer interface company CTRL-labs
- Some users may need to have brain-reading tech implanted into the brains
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg got candid with the company’s intention of creating wearables that can read people’s brains.
At an ongoing discussion series run by Facebook, Zuckerberg talked about the idea of technology that can translate brain signals into useful information for machines in two distinct arenas.
‘The goal is to eventually make it so that you can think something and control something in virtual or augmented reality,’ said Zuckerberg, in a the discussion which also included Dr. Joe DeRisi and Dr. Steve Quake of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, a medical science research center funded by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed plans to use brain-reading technology for augmented and virtual reality (File photo)
Facebook has already been steadily making progress in all of the above arenas, including strides in virtual reality technology through its VR hardware company Occulus, its rumored AR glasses, and more recently through investments in brain-to-computer interfaces.
In an undisclosed deal worth between $500 million to $1 billion, Facebook purchased a company called CTRL-labs which has been pioneering technology in the world of brain-to-computer interfaces.
Specifically, CTRL-labs is known to be developing on a watch-style device which intercepts signals which are sent from the brain to the fingers, in order to control a phone.
It works by assigning particular nerve messages from the brain to certain commands in the computer, which could in theory cut out the need to actually press any buttons.
Zuckerberg says that while signals could be read superficially, without having to surgically implant a device, there are some cases in which a harder approach may be necessary.
‘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 during the discussion.
‘But if your ability to translate things that are going on in your brain into motor activity is limited then you need something implanted.’
Whether Facebook is prepared to go to those invasive lengths to mesh humans with computers, however, is another question.
CTRL-labs wristband (pictured above) can read brain signals and translate them into information for controlling another device
In a leaked transcript recently published by The Verge, Zuckerberg said that the company intends to focus mostly on devices that can read brain signals without actually having to be embedded into one’s skull.
‘We’re more focused on — I think completely focused on non-invasive. [Laughter] We’re trying to make AR and VR a big thing in the next five years to 10 years …,’ reads the transcript.
‘I don’t know, you think Libra is hard to launch. “Facebook wants to perform brain surgery,” I don’t want to see the congressional hearings on that one.’
Conversely, another player in the the world of brain-to-computer interfaces, Neuralink, which is owned by Elon musk, has been focusing more on invasive ways of meshing human brains and computers.