Facebook held its annual F8 developers’ conference this week, revealing its plans for the future. While in the past the company has changed the way we communicate with others, Facebook has even bigger plans for our future.
At the conference, Facebook shared its plans for radically changing the way we communicate. While these changes sound like something out of a science fiction novel, Facebook’s goal is to launch these within the next 10 years.
- Typing with your mind
- Hearing with your skin
- Playing games and visiting your friends in augmented and virtual reality.
Don’t laugh. These all may come true, sooner than you think.
(Or not. The Facebook phone was never the success that the company had planned.)
Typing with Your Mind
Imagine typing words not with your fingers, nor your voice, but with your mind. You might think you’d have to have brain implants to translate your thoughts into written words. But Facebook wants you to be able to do this without implants.
In addition to being convenient for all of us, this technology could help people who are paralyzed and don’t have use of their hands.
Facebook would scan your brain 100 times a second to figure out what you want to say, then would type it onto a computer screen. The speed of typing would be up to 100 words per minute, faster than most humans can type using their hands.
This project began six months ago and Facebook is now working on this with University of California San Francisco, University of California Berkeley, Johns Hopkins University and Washington University in St. Louis.
According to Facebook, you would not have all of your thoughts typed, just the ones you want to share. No word on how Facebook can tell the difference between the two.
From Facebook: “This isn’t about decoding your random thoughts. Think of it like this: You take many photos and choose to share only some of them. Similarly, you have many thoughts and choose to share only some of them. This is about decoding those words you’ve already decided to share by sending them to the speech center of your brain.”
Hearing with Your Skin
Some day we may tell our grandchildren that we once used our ears for hearing. That’s right, Facebook might make our ears obsolete by allowing us to hear through our skin.
This technology could also help people who are hearing impaired be able to hear without implants.
Using both hardware and software, Facebook hopes to have your skin replicate the way your ears hear and interpret sound waves. A test subject was able to hear nine words through her skin.
Facebook Augmented Reality
Facebook wants to improve your reality by adding to it. Using special glasses you will be able to see things in your world that only exist through the lenses of these glasses.
Imaging sitting in your living room, looking at an empty table, then putting on Facebook glasses and seeing a chess set on that table. You and a friend could play chess using Facebook glasses, as if you were sitting across the table from them.
You could also control what your friends are seeing when you live stream video to them on Facebook Live. Add a cup of coffee to your table, make it steaming hot, then add a second cup so you don’t look like you’re alone.
Facebook will let you add frames, sports equipment, drawings and more to your videos and photos. You can even create your own frames to share with others.
Facebook Spaces – Virtual Reality
Can’t get together with your friends in person? Facebook Spaces is a new virtual reality feature that will let you hang out with them around the world, as if you were all together.
Spaces will use avatars people create from a photo of themselves on Facebook. These avatars will appear in Spaces so you can hang out with kind of a cartoon version of your friends.
You view Spaces through a virtual reality viewer and can invite others via Facebook Messenger. Spaces lets you visit with your friends in virtual places around the world.
This video shows how Spaces lets friends get together in virtual worlds.
Would you like to type using your mind instead of your hands or voice? Would you try hearing with your skin? Would you like to hang out with your friends in augmented or virtual reality?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
*Facebook cover image (edited) courtesy of Anthony Quintano via Flickr and Creative Commons
Voice of America Learning English
English learners who enjoy tech should check out my personal technology column at Voice of America Learning English. This week’s article is: Google, Pinterest Have New Ways to Search Images.