Weird but interesting

Nerve-tapping neckband used in ‘telepathic’ chat – tech – 12 March 2008 – New Scientist Tech

With careful training a person can send nerve signals to their vocal cords without making a sound. These signals are picked up by the neckband and relayed wirelessly to a computer that converts them into words spoken by a computerised voice.

A video (right) shows the system being used to place the first public voiceless phone call on stage at a recent conference held by microchip manufacturer Texas Instruments. Michael Callahan, co-founder of Ambient Corporation, which developed the neckband, demonstrates the device, called the Audeo.

Users needn’t worry about that the system voicing their inner thoughts though. Callahan says producing signals for the Audeo to decipher requires “a level above thinking”. Users must think specifically about voicing words for them to be picked up by the equipment.

The whole “telepathic” thing is a bunch of unfogiveable hype, but the actual technology might be useful. (It’s a variation on the tech that’s sometimes used to control prosthetic limbs.) I’d like to see it used for a bunch of stuff other than nominal voice, but it won’t be until this gets into the hands of lots of potential users that the cool applications start to appear


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