Sunday, April 14, 2024

Facebook is making an augmented reality bracelet that lets you control computers with your brain

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Facebook says it created a bracelet that translates motor signals from your brain so you can move a digital object just by thinking about it.

How it works? The wristband, which looks like an awkward iPod on a wristband, uses sensors to detect the movements you intend to make. It uses electromyography (EMG) to interpret the electrical activity of motor nerves as they send information from the brain to the hand. The company claims that the still unnamed device would allow you to navigate augmented reality menus in thought on moving your finger to scroll.

A little reminder on augmented reality: It overlays information on your view of the real world, whether it’s data, maps, or other images. The most successful augmented reality experience was Pokémon Go, which took the world by storm in 2016 as players roamed neighborhoods in search of elusive Pokémon characters. That initial promise has faded over the years, however, as companies have struggled to translate the technology into something attractive, lightweight, and usable. Google Glass and Snap Spectacles were bombed, for example: people just didn’t want to use them. Facebook thinks its bracelet is more user-friendly.

Does it work like Facebook claims? Too early to say. The product is still in research and development at the company’s internal Facebook Reality Labs, and I was unable to try. It is not yet known when it will be released or how much it will cost.

Years in the making: Facebook acquired the startup CTRL-labs in September 2019 to between $ 500 million and $ 1 billion. CTRL had worked on his own EMG device on the wrist, and its manager, Thomas Reardon, now leads Facebook’s AR / VR research team. During the press preview, Reardon said the device was “not mind control.” He added, “It comes from the part of the brain that controls motor information, not the thought.”

The AR game: This announcement is the second in a series of three that have been planned to define the company’s position in augmented reality. On March 9, Facebook ad that its glasses respond to the immediate environment – walking past your favorite coffee shop, the glasses might ask you if you want to place an order. Facebook says it will reveal its own haptic gloves and other wearable accessories later this year.

Another confidentiality pitfall? Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has aggressively invested in augmented and virtual reality, recognizing that products like these can mean access to countless valuable data points. In the cafe example above, the business (and therefore advertisers) might know what type of cafe you prefer, where you live and, by statistical inference, your demographic, health, and other personal information. And given the company’s history of privacy, there is reason to be skeptical.


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