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Facebook's new wristband could let you control your AR headset with your brain

Facebook's new wristband could allow you to type by sensing the impulses your brain sends to your wrist.  Facebook's new wristband could allow you to type by sensing the impulses your brain sends to your wrist. 
Facebook's new wristband could allow you to type by sensing the impulses your brain sends to your wrist.  (Facebook)

The company insists this is not mind-reading. Instead, it says it is decoding signals sent by your brain that tell your wrist and fingers to perform certain actions, in order to do things like moving objects or typing a message. 

Facebook has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, and the company is always working on new features and capabilities to enhance its user experience. The company has announced that its latest creation will allow users to control their AR experience with a wristband that can read neural signals from their brains.

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The company showed off a prototype of the new AR tech that it was working on in a blog post, informing readers that it had worked on a wristband that could leverage the technology behind electromyography (EMG) in order to figure out some of the signals your brain sends to your arms and legs to figure out what you wanted to do - in terms of actions. Think of it as the bracelet being able to figure out that your brain wanted you to swing your arm which was holding a cricket bat.

By allowing users to control a machine (like an AR headset at the moment) directly through a neural interface (like the wristband) the company taps into the peripheral nervous system, or the parts that “animate” your hand and finger muscles, according to Thomas Reardon, the Director of Neuromotor Interfaces at the company’s Facebook Reality Labs.

By allowing users to control a machine (like an AR headset at the moment) directly through a neural interface (like the wristband) the company taps into the peripheral nervous system, or the parts that “animate” your hand and finger muscles, according to Thomas Reardon, the Director of Neuromotor Interfaces at the company’s Facebook Reality Labs.

Facebook says that at the moment, its prototype can track basic gestures that your brain asks your hands to perform, which it calls “clicks”, but says that there’s a lot more potential - think of “richer controls” like moving objects in AR mode, or shifting parts of a virtual building around with just a wrist gesture. “You’ll also be able to control virtual objects at a distance. It’s sort of like having a superpower like the Force,” the company said on its blog.

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If this sounds like Facebook is trying to read your mind, the company wants to go out of its way to tell you that is not what it is attempting with this prototype. “This is not akin to mind-reading,” it stated, adding that the brain passes instructions (or signals) to your hands and fingers so you can perform actions like typing or moving objects around. “This is about decoding those signals at the wrist — the actions you’ve already decided to perform — and translating them into digital commands for your device,” the company said on its blog.

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