The device enables users to discreetly ask and receive answers to difficult computational problems.
Created by MIT researchers, the device includes a pair of special headphones and a pick up neuromuscular signals in the jaw.
“The motivation for this was to build an IA device — an intelligence-augmentation device,” says Arnav Kapur, a graduate student at the MIT media lab who led the development of the new system.
“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?”
The headphones enable the system to convey information to the user without interrupting conversation or otherwise interfering with the user’s auditory experience.
For example, in one of the experiments conducted, subjects used the system to silently report opponents’ moves in a chess game and to also receive computer-recommended responses.
“We basically can’t live without our cellphones, our digital devices,” says Pattie Maes, a professor of media arts and sciences and Kapur’s thesis advisor. “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.”