Unbabel offers AI translation services to corporations but their new product is designed to let individuals communicate telepathically. Well, almost.
The idea of using AI to read minds is moving quickly from science fiction to science fact. The problem with most of the current methods in development is that they are pretty invasive.
Elon Musk wants to implant Neuralink in your brain, and even less invasive EEG-based applications require the user to wear a sensor-filled cap on their head.
Halo uses EMG as the means to get an idea of what you’re thinking. EMG, or electromyography, measures electrical activity and muscle response to a nerve’s stimulation via the surface of your skin.
Thinking of different words produces unique electrical impulses in your skeletal muscles. If you can measure those impulses then you can begin to get an insight into brain activity.
The engineers at Unbabel put EMG sensors into an armband and captured the activity as the wearer thought of different words. They then fed the EMG measurements into an LLM which became trained and personalized to the wearer.
Once the AI has been trained, you can think of words and based on the measured EMG signals the AI knows what words you are thinking of.
The user has an app running on their phone which communicates with a central hub running ChatGPT 3.5. Once Halo thinks it knows what you want to say, it speaks the words to you via headphones.
If you’re happy with the sentence it generated then you think your approval of the message which then gets sent by text message.
Halo is still very much in beta and only allows for communicating at around 20 words per minute. While that isn’t near usable for everyday communication, it’s a big deal for people suffering from ALS.
ALS is the motor neuron disease that confined Stephen Hawking to a wheelchair, having to communicate at a painstaking 2 words per minute using a computer. Even in its current prototype stage, Halo would have enabled him to communicate 10 times faster.
Unbabel is working with ALS researchers in Portugal as the tech has immediate benefits to help patients communicate better. The company is confident that in the near future, it will hit its target of 80 words per minute to make Halo commercially viable.