Create a helmet capable of listening and interpreting thoughts

Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a helmet that can listen to thoughts, interpret them and transcribe them on any screen or communication device.

The helmet has been called Alter Ego. It is composed of seven electrodes located around the mouth and jaw that detect the presence of neuromuscular signals that are the basis of spoken language.

Once detected, these signals are transmitted to the main processor of the helmet that contains a network of neurons. This neural network extracts and processes the syntactic information necessary for the classification, organization and interpretation of non-pronounced words, based on subvocalization signals.

The inner voice (also known as subvocalization) is a very common habit among readers. It is about the words that many people pronounce in their mind while reading. Subvocalization is popularly known as talking to oneself.

The production of words in the human being involves the intervention of certain complex psychological systems. When the words or thoughts to be expressed are generated in the brain, they are coded as linguistic instances by the area of Broca , a section of the human brain involved in the production of language.

Efficiency of 92%

Next, the motor area of the brain transforms those words or thoughts into neuromuscular signals for the vocal articulation. All the stages prior to vocalization is also called subvocalization.

The engineers have tested the prototype in some people who have trained the computer program that regulates the helmet to recognize some mental commands, such as “call”, “respond”, “separate”, etc.

In this way, the helmet has managed to identify, interpret and respond to subvocalized words with an accuracy of 92%, according to the researchers in an article published in the journal   Proceeding of the IUI ’18 23rd International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces, the international conference on intelligent interfaces, held last month in Japan.

In addition, the helmet allows two people to hold a conversation without uttering a word, as the bone conduction channels of the human body can be linked to the interface and respond discreetly to any message received, without the communication passing through the sense of hearing.

The researchers point out that it is a non-invasive prototype, since it does not need the implantation of electrodes in the brain. It is also portable and lightweight. And the most important thing for the privacy of people: can not read closed thoughts, that is, those that are not meant to be verbalized.


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