Facebook Neural Wristbands: What Do They Mean for the Future?

When people think about Facebook, they usually think about a social media giant that allows them to stay in touch with family members and friends. On the other hand, the technology corporation has been exploring relationships with other companies in the industry, acquiring CTRL-Labs in 2019. This is a startup company that has been developing wrist bands that use electromyography (EMG), translating neural signals into actions.

When someone makes a movement, such as playing video games, swiping on something, or typing on a computer, there are motor signals that go from the brain to the muscles in order to make these actions happen. This company tracks those motor signals using neural wristbands. 

Then, these wristbands provide something called haptic feedback, creating a system that is far more responsive than any other tracking options offered today. 

Neural Wristbands Are Made Public 

It appears these neural wristbands may become reality sooner rather than later. In a blog post published by Facebook Reality Labs, the public got a glimpse at what the company has been working on (Facebook video). This neural response can be used to track basic gestures, referred to as “clicks” by Facebook. These clicks are supposed to be reliable and straightforward. Instead of using visual sensors that are mounted on a headset, the wristband is going to be far less clunky and invasive. It will track nerve signals that run along the arms instead of the eyes. 

Due to the progress that has been made by Facebook and CTRL-Labs, these wristbands are able to do so much more. For example, it is possible for someone to use these wristbands to track nerve signals flowing from the brain to the fingers as they type. As a result, it may be possible to type on a virtual keyboard that does not have physical buttons. The neural wristbands are able to see which keys you would press if a physical keyboard was in front of you. Then, people may be able to produce a document without physical access to a keyboard. 

Those who are prone to making typos may be able to have these typos corrected. It is possible these wristbands may be able to detect common typos that individuals make. Then, they may be able to adjust the positions of the virtual buttons to avoid these typos. This has the potential to take autocorrect to new heights. 

The Potential To Change How People Interact with Computers

When CTRL-Labs first described this project several years ago, a lot of people were surprised. At the time, the idea of virtual reality was still in its infancy. Now, it is bringing that idea to life. The current project is not significantly different than it was first described several years ago. 

Eventually, the goal is for these EMG wristbands to allow people to type documents by simply thinking about how they would move their fingers and hands. By relying on augmented reality glasses and artificial intelligence, these new products have the potential to change the way people interact with computers. In essence, this is a brain-computer interface that takes advantage of haptic feedback. People have many thoughts; however, they choose to act on only a few of them. These wristbands seek to decode these signals, offering an intimate look at how people move their bodies using neural signals.


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