The social media giant announced the program in 2017.
“We are working on a system that will let people type with their brains,” the company said at the time. “Specifically, we have a goal of creating a silent speech system capable of typing 100 words per minute straight from your brain — that’s five times faster than you can type on a smartphone today.
“This isn’t about decoding your random thoughts. Think of it like this: You take many photos and choose to share only some of them. Similarly, you have many thoughts and choose to share only some of them.
“This is about decoding those words you’ve already decided to share by sending them to the speech center of your brain. It’s a way to communicate with the speed and flexibility of your voice and the privacy of text. We want to do this with non-invasive, wearable sensors that can be manufactured at scale.”
The company has been working to make the technology a reality through a partnership between Facebook Reality Labs, a division that studies long-term tech products and hardware, and researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, according to CNBC.
A study was published on Tuesday (July 30) in the journal Nature Communications, explaining how the researchers used the brain-computer interface to decode speech directly from the human brain onto a screen. For the study, researchers worked with three patients undergoing treatment for epilepsy who had electrodes implanted into their brains.
The technology, which will be tested throughout the rest of the year, can potentially provide a means of communication to patients who can no longer speak after severe brain injuries.
However, Facebook warned that the technology won’t be available to consumers anytime soon.
“It’s currently bulky, slow, and unreliable,” the company said, according to CNBC. “But the potential is significant, so we believe it’s worthwhile to keep improving this state-of-the-art technology over time.”