Facebook Wants To Build A Mind-Reading Wristband

Facebook wants to know what you're going to do before you do it, and the company is well on its way toward making that dream a reality. 

The social media giant has made a deal to buy a startup working on ways to command devices by using thought instead of taps, swipes, or keystrokes.

The announcement came by way of Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of VR and AR, who revealed that the business was acquiring "neural interface platform" CTRL-labs.

CTRL-labs will become part of Facebook Reality Labs with an aim at perfecting the technology and getting it into consumer products, according to Bosworth.

The stated goal of the acquisition is to build a wristband that "captures your intention" by reading electrical signals sent through your body. 

"We know there are more natural, intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology," Mr Bosworth said in a post at Facebook announcing the acquisition.

"And we want to build them. The vision for this work is a wristband that lets people control their devices as a natural extension of movement."

He continued by explaining that the wristband will decode electrical impulses such as those sent to hand muscles telling them to move certain ways, such as clicking a computer mouse or pressing a button.

"Technology like this has the potential to open up new creative possibilities and reimagine 19th-century inventions in a 21st-century world," he concluded. 

The move is one in the ostensible name of "empowering you with control over your digital life," and, coming from a company that has repeatedly mislead users in terms of personal data sharing, it's understandable that users are a bit apprehensive ahead of the new move. 

This isn't the first time Facebook has dabbled in the art of mind-reading. 

Back in 2017, the  Menlo Park-based company first announced its plans to allow users to use their minds to type messages.

And just this past July, Facebook gave a public update on its plans to "decode silent speech" with some sort of brain interface. 

Such projects were the focus of a team of scientists, engineers, and system integrators with a goal of "creating a system capable of typing 100 words-per-minute straight from your brain", Facebook said at the time.

Such technology could, for example, allow people to send messages by merely thinking, instead of needing to interrupt what they are doing to use smartphone touchscreens.

Prior to recent technological advances, brain-computer interface technology such as this could only have been considered with the implantation of electrodes. 

However, Facebook has been keen to explore the topic without the need for surgical intrusion. 

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