Facebook abandons brain-powered typing for AR glasses

Facebook is going all in on Augmented Reality. Thoroughly backed by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the company is hoping to be a major force in the computing of the future. However, the company has been met with a major setback that will limit its vision of what AR can possibly provide.

Reported by The Verge, Facebook is giving up on brain-powered AR controls for the foreseeable future. After years of research, the technology is simply unfeasible without crossing some serious ethical boundaries.

Why Facebook is abandoning brain-powered AR

After a years-long collaboration with the University of California San Francisco’s Chang Lab, Facebook has abandoned brain-powered computer controls. The technology investigated was not useless; the research paper concludes that there is potential for brain-powered controls.

The technology would go a long way into helping mute or otherwise speaking impaired people communicate. One speaking-impaired subject used the tech to talk for the first time in 16 years. However, the tech requires the user to receive a brain implant to work. Facebook has no interest in this.

In a press release, the company shut down speculation that they would be looking into implants, saying:

"To be clear, Facebook has no interest in developing products that require implanted electrodes... while we still believe in the long-term potential of head-mounted optical BCI technologies, we’ve decided to focus our immediate efforts on a different neural interface approach that has a nearer-term path to market.”

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The alternative

For the company's augmented reality systems, brainpower is off the table. Instead, Facebook is focused on their previously announced neural wristbands. This tech uses electromyography to turn neural signals into controls. Haptic feedback will allow the user to feel the controls they're inputting and make corrections.

Even with the current state of electromyography tech, Facebook’s AR dream is still far away. Until all facets of the technology provide a user-friendly enjoyable experience, the tech won't release. However, it's still an exciting future.

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