MIT Headset Lets You Communicate Without Speaking

Nifty little device from MIT picks up the neuromuscular signals that you make when you are thinking about saying words.


Researchers at MIT's Media Lab are giving a "voice" to that voice inside your head. The team has come up with a way to communicate with a computer system by having users "speak silently" to themselves, or subvocalize. The device, called AlterEgo, uses electrodes to read the neuromuscular signals from the user's internal speech organs when they "say" words in their head.

Once captured, the signals are transferred to a machine-learning system that's been trained to associate certain signals with certain words. So far, the system can recognize about 100 words, but the team hopes to expand its vocabulary.

David Brin wrote about it quite specifically in his 1990 novel Earth.

She took a subvocal input device from its rack and placed the attached sensors on her throat, jaw, and temples. A faint glitter in the display screens meant the machine was already tracking her eyes, noting by curvature of lens and angle of pupil the exact spot on which she focused at any moment.

She didn't have to speak aloud, only intend to. The subvocal read nerve signals, letting her enter words by just beginning to will them...
(Read more about the Subvocal Input Device)

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