We basically can’t live without our cell phones, our digital devices. But at the moment, the use of those devices is very disruptive. Wouldn’t it be rather nice if we could just think of the question and a device could just Google it real quick and give the answer? Well, we’ve reached the point where robots can now read your mind. Kind of. Researchers at MIT have developed a wearable gadget that transcribes and responds to conversations users have with themselves in their heads. Example

Comprised of a wearable device and a small computing system, AlterEgo enables users to “silently converse” with a computing device without talking or making any recognisable movements. It uses electrodes to pick up neuromuscular signals in the user’s jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations. These signals are then sent to a machine-learning system that has been trained to associate certain signals with certain words.

A pair of bone-conduction headphones included in the device transmits vibrations through the bones of the face to the inner ear. As the headphones don’t obstruct the ear canal, this means the system can pass on information to the user without interrupting a conversation or interfering with the user’s aural experience. The motivation for this was to build an IA device — an intelligence-augmentation device, 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. If the user were to internally question, “what is the time,” the AlterEgo headset would register this, and feed the answer back to them through bone conduction.

This means the user doesn’t have to look at a screen and type in words to find the answer to their question, or to control a device.