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Brain-to-text Technology? Facebook is studying ways for people to communicate by thought and touch

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Regina Dugan, vice president of engineering of Building 8 at Facebook, speaks on stage during the second day of the annual Facebook F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, April 19, 2017. VOA
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Facebook on Wednesday pulled aside the curtain on a secretive unit headed by a former chief of the Pentagon’s research arm, disclosing that the social media company is studying ways for people to communicate by thought and touch.

Facebook launched the research shop, called Building 8, last year to conduct long-term work that might lead to hardware products. In charge of the unit is Regina Dugan, who led a similar group at Alphabet’s Google and was previously director of the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

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Dugan told software developers at Facebook’s annual F8 conference that the company was modeling Building 8 after DARPA, a government office founded in the 1950s that gave the world the internet and the miniaturized GPS receivers used in consumer devices.

Any hardware rollouts are years away, Dugan said in a speech. Potential products could, if successful, be a way for Facebook to diversify beyond its heavy reliance on advertising revenue.

One example of Building 8’s work so far, Dugan said, was an attempt to improve technology that allows people to type words using their minds.

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“It sounds impossible, but it’s closer than you may realize,” Dugan said.

Using brain implants, people can already type eight words a minute, she said. Facebook’s goal, working with researchers at several U.S. universities, is to make the system non-invasive, as well as fast enough so that people can type 100 words a minute just by thinking.

Possible uses include helping disabled people and “the ability to text your friend without taking out your phone,” she said.

Another Building 8 project, she said, was trying to advance the ability to communicate through touch only, an idea with roots in Braille, a writing system for the blind and visually impaired.

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A video played at the conference showed two Facebook employees talking to each other through touch. As one employee, Frances, wore an electronic device on her arm, the other, Freddy, used a computer program to send pressure changes to her arm.

“If you ask Frances what she feels,” Dugan said, “she’ll tell you that she has learned to feel the acoustic shape of a word on her arm.”

In December, Facebook signed a deal with 17 universities including Harvard and Princeton to allow swifter collaboration on projects with Dugan’s team. (VOA)

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Now Add Friends In Live Chats On Facebook Messenger

Users need to download the latest version of Messenger to get the new feature.

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Facebook now gives options to add friends from the live chat. Pixabay
Facebook now gives options to add friends from the live chat. Pixabay
  • New Facebook Messenger app has a new feature
  • This feature allows you to add friends from live chat
  • The app will help connect people faster and easily

Facebook has rolled out a new feature in both iOS and Android apps that can allow users to add more friends and family members to a live audio and video chats in Messenger.

With the update, users need not hang up and manually add people into a conversation before restarting the call.

Facebook
Now add friends on live chat! VOA

“We’re excited to share a small new feature that will hopefully have a big impact to make your video and audio chats easier and faster than ever,” Sarah Morris, Product Manager of Messenger, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

Earlier, to turn a one-on-one video or audio chat into a group chat, users had to hang up, start a new conversation from your inbox — either by creating an entirely new message or by searching for an old one — and then turn that conversation into a call.

Facebook's this feature is available on the upgraded version of messenger. AFP
Facebook’s this feature is available on the upgraded version of messenger. AFP

While in a video chat or on a voice call, tap the screen, select the “add person” icon and choose who you want to join.

All the filters and effects would be available and after the chat ends, a group chat is created automatically in a user’s inbox.

Users need to download the latest version of Messenger to get the feature. IANS