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Facebook inches closer to its brain-reading computer

The social media company hopes to integrate a ‘brain-computer interface’ into augmented reality glasses.


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Aug 1, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 7:31 am CDT

Facebook is inching closer to developing a brain-computer interface that will allow humans to type with just their minds.

The tech company says it’s made notable progress on a noninvasive wearable brain-reading computer since first revealing the idea at its annual developer conference in 2017.

Facebook is working with researchers from the University of California, San Francisco who published a study on their latest breakthroughs Tuesday in the Nature Communications journal.

The study, which used three patients being treated for epilepsy with electrodes implanted in their brains, saw human thought being translated into words on a computer screen.

While the research team says such a device could be used to help victims of severe brain injuries communicate, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, Facebook vice president of AR/VR, noted in a tweet that the tech could be integrated into augmented reality glasses.

“Today we’re sharing an update on our work to build a non-invasive wearable device that lets people type just by imagining what they want to say,” Bosworth said. “Our progress shows real potential in how future inputs and interactions with AR glasses could one day look.”

Although the announcement indicates real progress in the field, Facebook admits that its current device is “bulky, slow, and unreliable.” The tech company hopes to continue its research for years to come in order to make the technology available to the masses.

“That future is still a long way off, but the early-stage research taking place today is the first step toward delivering on its promise,” Facebook added.

The announcement comes just weeks after Elon Musk’s Neuralink company, which is also working on brain-computer interfaces, stated that it intends to begin human trials within the next year.


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*First Published: Aug 1, 2019, 2:31 pm CDT