Regina Dugan recently took the stage at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference to talk about Building 8's newest pet project – a solution for brain-controlled typing. The technology sounds like something out of science fiction, but Dugan revealed that test subjects using brain implants are already able to type up to eight words per minute, though she didn't say how accurate the system was at the moment. According to Dugan, the project's foundations are mostly set and there are now two main goals to meet. Though she didn't state a timeline for these goals, Dugan said that Building 8 is working to make the system less invasive to use, and to get the speed up to 100 words per minute. For reference, that's about twice as fast as the average typist, though some people are able to type far faster than that.
While Dugan didn't go into specifics about how the project works and how they plan to improve it going forward, she did say that a hardware release of any sort was still just a distant possibility. This project comes on the heels of a December deal that saw 17 research entities, including Harvard, sign on for priority collaboration with Building 8, with the goal of improving Facebook's efforts to realize its experimental ideas.
As if thought-to-text wasn't enough, Building 8 is also working on a system that allows communication through touch. In a video showcasing the invention at F8, one employee sat at a computer typing messages that were relayed to a wearable. Another employee, sporting said wearable on their arm, was able to "feel" the words being sent by the computer thanks to acoustic vibrations from the wearable. Dugan went into even less detail on how this project works but did give a bit of an idea of what it's like by comparing it to braille, a tactile feedback language used to allow the visually impaired to read and write. The fact that Building 8 just formed last year and already has two promising projects in the prototype state speaks volumes about the researchers behind it Dugan herself, whose history includes tenures with Alphabet and the United States Department of Advanced Research And Projects, also known as DARPA.