Headset that Communicates Without Speaking


MIT researchers have created a computer interface called AlterEgo project-headset that is hands-free and voice-free.The device does not read your brainwaves, yet transcribes the words that user verbalises internally but does not speak aoud. The device relies on subvocalization-” saying words in your head”-but are undetectable to the human eye.

“We basically can’t live without our cell phones, our digital devices,” Pattie Maes, a professor of media arts and sciences, said at MIT news. “But at the moment, the use of those devices is very disruptive. If I want to look something up that’s relevant to a conversation I’m having, I have to find my phone and type in the passcode and open an app and type in some search keyword, and the whole thing requires that I completely shift attention from my environment and the people that I’m with to the phone itself. So, my students and I have for a very long time been experimenting with new form factors and new types of experience that enable people to still benefit from all the wonderful knowledge and services that these devices give us, but do it in a way that lets them remain in the present.”

The device consists of a wearable headset and an associated computing system.The electrodes in the device pick up the neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalization. The signals are then fed to a machine-learning system that has been trained to correlate particular signals with particular words.

It also includes a pair of bone-conduction headphones that wrap outside the ear transmitting sound directly through the bone of your skull. The headset does not obstruct the ear canal, it enables the system to convey information to the user without interrupting the conversation or otherwise interfering with the user’s auditory experience.

The device will allow you to silently communicate with the computer in crowded places.It requires calibration for every individual as every neuromuscular signal would be slightly different.Currently, the research team created tasks with limited vocabularies of about 20 words each but they are collecting data on the more complex conversation to expand its abilities.

This device would be useful for communication in noisy environments or places where silence is required but it could also allow the voiceless to communicate if they have use of muscle and jaw in their face.