Facebook demonstrates new wrist-worn prototype for interacting with AR systems
In a recent blog post, Facebook announced that it is developing a wearable which will act as a new medium for interaction with Augmented Reality (AR) computers. The wristband-like device is being developed by Facebook Reality Labs. The wearable uses a neural interface instead of position tracking tech. It was initially developed by CTRL-Labs, a company the social media giant acquired in 2019.
Facebook's video demonstrating and explaining the new wearable
Neural interfaces interpret nervous system signals to instruct machines
A neural interface interprets motor nerve signals and interacts with the AR environment accordingly. The blog post explained that wrist-worn devices would fit well into everyday life. Additionally, it will be close to a wearer's hands, the primary instruments for worldly interaction. The subject came up during a Clubhouse event featuring Mark Zuckerberg, Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek, and Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke.
The wearable resembles an iPod mini, supports pinch, tap gestures
Following the blog post release, Facebook's VP for AR and Virtual Reality (VR) Andrew Bosworth tweeted a short video of a research prototype. The device visually resembles a wrist-worn iPod mini, but it demonstrates remarkable accuracy tracking a wearer's hand gestures. Facebook said that initially the device would support pinch and tapping gestures, with support for more gestures added at a later point.
Facebook's VP for AR and VR tweets video demonstrating wearable
AR glasses will enable us to be present and connected—how we communicate with this new device will be critical. Building this interface demands advances from numerous technological areas and I’m proud of our research teams and the progress we’ve made: https://t.co/6ztS7bYQCw https://t.co/SJgViVJt5e— Boz (@boztank) March 18, 2021
Facebook says neural interfaces could anticipate movements in the future
Facebook's demo video for the wearable technology called it the "purest form of a superpower". It also admitted that neural interfaces for computers are new and have a long way to go. Facebook said that in the future, neural interfaces could anticipate movements and translate them into corresponding virtual actions, making the human-computer interaction even more seamless.
Haptic feedback systems also being developed for the wearable
Facebook said that it is working on integrating the neural interface wearable with its connected glasses project to deliver a cohesive next-generation computing experience. The company added that the wearable could deliver haptic feedback to the wearer as well. It said it is working on a number of implementations including a pneumatic bellows system dubbed Bellowband and a vibrating-squeezing mechanism dubbed Tasbi.
People might not be comfortable surrendering nervous system to Facebook
While Facebook's wearable might be a less intrusive neural interface than Elon Musk's Neuralink brain implants, the social media giant hasn't yet promised a public launch. Given Facebook's appalling track record in handling confidential user data, we remain skeptical about how quickly people might make it the world's most powerful neuroscientist. Not to mention, neural interface tech won't come cheap for initial adopters.