Duggan revealed that one of Building 8’s efforts so far has been to try to optimize the technology for type with the brain. “It sounds weird, but it’s closer to reality than you think,” she said.
Dugan told Facebook‘s F8 developer conference that Building 8’s setup is modeled after DARPA, which was founded in the 1950s. DARPA’s research results include the Internet and miniaturized GPS receivers.
She said that using brain implants, humans can already type eight words per minute. Facebook is working with a number of universities across the U.S., and the company aims to implement the system in a non-destructive way and achieve input speeds of 100 words per minute. Possible applications for this technology include assisting people with disabilities and “messaging friends without taking out your phone.”
Another project at Building 8 is developing touch-based communication capabilities. This concept comes from the Braille system.
A video shown at the conference showed two Facebook employees talking through touch. One employee, Francis, wore an electronic device on his arm, while another employee, Freddy, used a computer program to send pressure signals to the former’s arm.
“If you ask Frances what she feels, she will tell you that she has learned to feel the acoustic patterns that represent words through her arms,” Dugan said.
In December last year, Facebook signed cooperation agreements with 17 universities, including Harvard University and Princeton University, to promote cooperation between Dugan’s team and universities.