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Facebook Develops Augmented Reality Interface Device to Help Users Type with their Mind

The UCSF team has been able to decode a small set of full, spoken words and phrases from brain activity in real time -- a first in the field of BCI research

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facebook, augmented reality
Facebook o help patients with neurological damage speak again by detecting intended speech from brain activity in real time. Pixabay

Facebook is developing a brain-computer Augmented Reality (AR) interface device that would help users type with their mind. At its F8 Developers’ Conference in 2017, the company announced its Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) programme — outlining its goal to build a non-invasive, wearable device that lets people type by simply imagining themselves talking.

Facebook is supporting a team of researchers at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) who are working to help patients with neurological damage speak again by detecting intended speech from brain activity in real time.

In a paper appeared in the journal Nature Communications, the UCSF team “has shared how far we have to go to achieve fully non-invasive BCI as a potential input solution for AR glasses”, said Facebook in a blog post on Tuesday.

The UCSF team has been able to decode a small set of full, spoken words and phrases from brain activity in real time — a first in the field of BCI research. The researchers emphasise that their algorithm is so far only capable of recognising a small set of words and phrases, but ongoing work aims to translate much larger vocabularies with dramatically lower error rates.

augmented reality, facebook
Augmented Reality (AR)-powered wearable computers can help those with ASD gain confidence, clarity, understanding, social integration and self-sufficiency. Flickr

“The promise of AR lies in its ability to seamlessly connect people to the world that surrounds them and to each other. Rather than looking down at a phone screen or breaking out a laptop, we can maintain eye contact and retrieve useful information and context without ever missing a beat,” Facebook added.

As Chief Scientist Michael Abrash and the team at Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) see it, “we are standing on the edge of the next great wave in human-oriented computing, one in which the combined technologies of AR and VR converge and revolutionise how we interact with the world around us”.

“It is going to be something completely new, as clean a break from anything that has come before as the mouse/GUI-based interface was from punch cards, printouts, and teletype machines,” said Abrash.

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Facebook first announced in 2017 that its research lab, Building 8, was working on a computer-brain interface. Pixabay

The aim of the BCI research programme at Facebook Reality Labs is to develop a non-invasive, silent speech interface that will let people type just by imagining the words they want to say – a technology that could one day be a powerful input for all-day wearable AR glasses.

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Ultimately, the researchers hope to reach a real-time decoding speed of 100 words per minute with a 1,000-word vocabulary and word error rate of less than 17 per cent. Facebook first announced in 2017 that its research lab, Building 8, was working on a computer-brain interface.

The Facebook programme comes on the heels of Elon Musk-led startup Neuralink’s bold research that has revealed tiny brain “threads” in a chip which is long lasting, usable at home and has the potential to replace cumbersome devices currently used as brain-machine interfaces. (IANS)

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Facebook Apps Helped EU Firms Generate 208 bn Euros in Sales

The study also found that female-founded businesses, in particular, credit social media with helping them to start and grow their businesses

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Facebook apps have helped businesses in the European Union (EU) generate sales corresponding to an estimated 208 billion euros last year – resulting in nearly 3.1 million jobs, the social networking giant said in a new report.

According to Facebook, around 25 million businesses in the European Union, mostly small businesses, are using its services each month.

“Businesses said that using Facebook apps helped them generate an estimated 98 billion euros in exports last year. Of these exports, 58 billion euros are sales within the EU and 40 billion euros are sales to the rest of the world,” Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice-President for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Facebook, said on Monday.

To understand the true extent of Facebook’s impact on the European economy, the company commissioned a study by Copenhagen Economics, one of the leading economic firms in Europe. The study surveyed over 7,700 businesses across all industries and sizes in 15 countries.

“This shows the critical role social media plays in driving sales for businesses across Europe. This is particularly true for small and medium sized businesses,” Mendelsohn added.

Fake, News, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

Six in 10 companies said Facebook apps are important in lowering marketing costs and a similar number said Facebook apps are important in improving customer service.

“Six in 10 businesses using Facebook apps report them as helpful to enter markets, and 7 in 10 businesses using Facebook apps are exporting to other countries compared to 5 in 10 non-users,” the report mentioned.

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The study also found that female-founded businesses, in particular, credit social media with helping them to start and grow their businesses.

“Fifty-eight per cent of female-founded businesses surveyed said that Facebook apps are important for enabling them to start businesses, while 65 per cent said it helped grow their revenue,” said the report. (IANS)