MIT Made a New Wearable That Gives Your Thoughts a Voice

April 17, 2018 - 2 minutes read

MedTech wearables are evolving, but the adoption by the general public has been slow. But a new device out of Boston-based MIT could change that. The wearable seemingly reads your internal voice and carries out computations, integrates with Roku, and more.

Arnav Kapur led the team who developed the device, which is aptly dubbed “AlterEgo”. “Our idea was: could we have a computing platform that’s more internal, that melds human and machine in some ways and that feels like an internal extension of our own cognition?” says Kapur.

The Voice in Your Head

The project began as a solution to a problem: when artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more ubiquitous, instead of a culture shock, what could help people ease into communicating with it? AlterEgo is designed to make everyday interactions with AI more private. But its uses are more far-reaching than that.

Since the device doesn’t require verbal or physical cues, it could be used by patients with speech impairments. Stealth missions in the military would be revolutionized.

AlterEgo uses bone-conduction earphones and electrodes that read neuromuscular signals from the internal speech organs that “talk” inside your head. The signals are compiled and analyzed with machine learning algorithms that have been trained on associating certain words with specific signals. So far, AlterEgo can detect 100 words, but the team is working to improve that number.

One Body, Two Voices

According to the press release, the device “aims to combine humans and computers—such that computing, the internet, and AI would weave into human personality as a ‘second self’ and augment human cognition and abilities.”

We all have thousands of thoughts running through our brains at any given time. Kapur emphasizes that the device isn’t reading your mind, only the “silent speaking” that the user voluntarily engages in. AlterEgo has a 92% accuracy rate in transcription for a test group of 10 people.

The results are promising, and the proposed method of communicating with AI is innovative. We can’t wait to see this MedTech application evolve!

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