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Space Science

NASA Develops Tech To Hear Words Not Yet Spoken 466

Posted by simoniker
from the what-am-i-thinking? dept.
alex_guy_CA writes "Yahoo News has a story about technology that comes close to reading thoughts not yet spoken, by analyzing nerve commands to the throat. 'A person using the subvocal system thinks of phrases and talks to himself so quietly it cannot be heard, but the tongue and vocal cords do receive speech signals from the brain,' said developer Chuck Jorgensen, of NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. Jorgensen's team found that sensors under the chin and one each side of the Adam's apple pick up the brain's commands to the speech organs, allowing the subauditory, or 'silent speech' to be captured. The story indicates the method could be useful on space missions or other difficult working conditions."
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NASA Develops Tech To Hear Words Not Yet Spoken

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  • by mmoncur (229199) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:41AM (#8596199) Homepage
    Wow! Combine this with a transmitter and receiver, and you get the ability to have sub-vocal backchannel communication with people--I think it was Gregory Benford who wrote a series of books that featured something like this.

    Way better than text messaging.
    • by Cornelius the Great (555189) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:47AM (#8596238)
      The sequels to the Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card) books featured this technology as well. Ender would subvocalize with Jane, who travelled on the ansible.

      Good story, good universe. I hear there's an Ender's Game movie in the works.
    • by sysbot (238421) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:13AM (#8596366)
      How about interfacing with a computer? How's about mind control "everything"! This is cool!!
    • Sure it wasn't one of Joe Haldeman's novels like "Forever Peace [amazon.com]
      "?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:20AM (#8596393)
      Combine this with a transmitter and receiver, and you get the ability to have sub-vocal backchannel communication with people
      Or the ability to "wiretap" the things floating around in someone's head, the dissents they thought that they were voicing only to themselves.

      Thoughtcrime, indeed.
      • Or the ability to "wiretap" the things floating around in someone's head, the dissents they thought that they were voicing only to themselves.

        This technology doesn't detect thoughts, it detects subvocalization. You don't normally subvocalize when thinking to yourself; it takes a conscious effort similar to talking out loud.

    • Actually, I remember reading about that technology being used in the Fifth Foreign Legion trilogy.

      • Yeah, I can see it now. Some poor schmuck gets convicted of sub-vocalizing "Wow!, you could plug one of them into each ear & hear your gun go off better" in front of a well endowed female who definitly isn't interested.

        Some thoughts are better kept silent... But one really should pay attention to the body language and pheremones being broadcast if one wants the maximum "action". They don't lie near as much as the mouth.

        Cheers, Gene
    • David Brin posited this system in Earth as the nearest thing to a direct mind-machine interface. The way he told it, it wasn't in common use because it took incredible focus to use effectively; even the slightest deviation in what you were thinking got transmitted to the machine, which promptly tried to execute your deviant command, and stopped working.

    • Frank Herbert had this many years ago in The Godmakers.
    • So you mean that the system would capture my vocal signals and transmit them to a similar device in someone else's throat and then that person would spontaneously blurt out whatever I quietly mumbled?
      Yeah, that would be cool! ;)
    • by John Courtland (585609) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @04:27AM (#8596624)
      There's this thing called LASH... I forget exactly what the acronym means, but I think it means, Los Angeles Silent/SWAT Headset. It is basically a collar that goes around your throat, and you mouth the words you want to say, and everyone else with a reciever can hear them. You don't whisper, you just silently make the mouth gestures and the machine amplifies them. Perfect for a SWAT team, or pretty much any military force.
      • by StateOfTheUnion (762194) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @01:15PM (#8600147) Homepage
        LASH uses a throat microphone. It straps to the throat and you have to speak (make noise) for the microphone to pickup. The advantage of a throat microphone is that ambient noise is not picked up by the microphone. According to one of the vendors ( swatheadsets.com [swatheadsets.com]) you are supposed to be able to be understood through the microphone while under the beating rotors of a helicopter.

        One disadvantage is that percussive sounds (In english, the sound of a "B", "T", "D" etc.) are not picked up by most throat mikes because these sounds are made mostly by the lips, not the throat.

    • Techno-telepathy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HTH NE1 (675604)
      Combine this with a transmitter and receiver, and you get the ability to have sub-vocal backchannel communication with people

      I for one welcome our new techno-telepathic overlords.

      Seriously though, military applications abound for this. Silent communication without having to maintain line-of-sight to read code hand gestures would be just one. This could be done in short order since the set of commands it has to recognize is short.

      And the Secret Service would be a natural implementation for this as it a
  • by NSash (711724) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:43AM (#8596208) Journal
    ...that system Ender used to talk to Jane? That would be sooo cool. (Now, all I need is an omniscient AI with root access on every machine connected to the Internet...)
  • by IANAL(BIAILS) (726712) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:43AM (#8596211) Homepage Journal
    I mean - there are a lot of things that I *think* about some of my coworkers, especially during meetings, but I always am able to catch myself right before I say anything. You'd *really* have to watch yourself plugged into that thing!
    • Yeah, or think about test taking--it would take cheating to a whole new (although probably expensive) level.
    • by indigeek (755687) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:24AM (#8596411)
      It should not be too much of a problem once people get used to it. And it shouldnt be too much more difficult than to control than actually (vocally) talking without thinking.
      Humans right now are trained to keep their mouth shut even when they are thinking, or even talk exactly opposite of what they think. We yet are not used to controlling the previous level, ie subconsciously talking (ever noticed people at bus stops muttering to themselves or even smiling?) .Once this technology has become mainstream, we should be able to adapt and to think only at a brain level instead of translating into vocal commands. (Qustion: Do Spanish people think differently from Chinese people who don't have a proper phonetic language if they are thinking to themselves?)
      And I think we have done this before. Imagine a non-humanoid alien landing on earth. I am sure he would be surprised that all the humans can actually balance themselves on 2 foot and even run around (They would probably think it a waste trying to balance yourself on a point while crawling is much less brain intensive). And Imagine, these beings can even balance themselves on 2 inch thick wheels around a metre above earth (bicycles).And this technique has no evolutionary basis, almost all the humans learned it within a 100 years or so. Looks like a very adaptable race to me.
      • by cevnet (578229) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @06:14AM (#8596945)
        (Qustion: Do Spanish people think differently from Chinese people who don't have a proper phonetic language if they are thinking to themselves?)
        I've always wondered how people who haven't acquired language at all think. Is abstract thought possible without language?
        • by jorleif (447241)
          A very interesting question. However if these people are to ever convince us that they possess abstract thought they will have to communicate that somehow. The least linguistic way of communicating would probably be through acting intelligently in some kind of test setting. No simple experiments :)
          • by back_pages (600753)
            I'm a computer scientist, so keep in mind my area of expertise...

            There are a number of animals that use tools to complete tasks. Birds hunting for grubs with pointy sticks is a great example. I don't know if this would happen, but if you put such a bird in an enclosure with no pointy sticks but a supply of pointy stick-like objects and used one to catch a grub, there might be an argument for abstract thought. If you offered the bird different grub catching tools and it figured out how to use them, I thi

        • by Ieshan (409693)
          If you're seriously interested, you may want to check out

          http://www.pigeon.psy.tufts.edu [tufts.edu]

          It's a concept formation and learning lab using pigeons as a test system for abstract concept formation in the absense of language. There's an entire free book on the website with articles by some of the biggest researches in the field, along with live demos and other things.

          I didn't write it, but I work in the lab, and it's a great introduction to the field.
        • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@infa[ ]s.net ['mou' in gap]> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:01AM (#8598454) Homepage
          Is abstract thought possible without language?

          Yes. How could one aquire language if thought wasn't there already? Consider the rare feral children adults who have grown up without acquiring language [wikipedia.org] - do you think they're "dark inside"? Or even more fascinating, Helen Keller, who acquired language late enough to have memories that pre-dated that acquisition.

          Consult any Zen master for further instruction - that which the Japanese call "mushin" ("no-mind") might be thought of as "thinking without words". (Of course, there is a difference between transcending linguistic thought, and never acquiring it in the first place.)

          But in thinking of mushin as thinking without words, you are thinking with words, and thus getting away from the actual phenomenon. Thus Zen Master Seung Sahn's observation "open mouth, already a mistake" [cizny.org].

          Man is a thinking reed but his great works are when he is not calculating and thinking. "Childlikeness" has to be restored with long years of training in the art of self-forgetfulness. When this is attained, man thinks yet he does not think. He thinks like the showers coming down from the sky; he thinks like the waves rolling on the ocean; he thinks like the stars illuminating the nightly heavens; he thinks like the green foliage shooting forth in the relaxing spring breeze. Indeed, he is the showers, the ocean, the stars, the foliage. -- D.T. Suzuki
      • by DigiShaman (671371)
        That is, you're assuming the human mind has the same communication lexicon (based on simple emotional syntax) at the core, and spoken language is nothing more then an interchangeable shell.

    • by TekGoNos (748138)
      No danger with the current version.

      You had to think : "two, three, one, four, two, three, three, three, four, two" or so to send "idiot" to your coworkers. (They use a grid with the letters of alphabet to reduce the number of symbols the system has to recognize.)

      But once they implement full word recognition ...
  • No way this could be used for anti-terrorism surveillance...
    • Exactly. There really is no way this could be used for anti-terrorism surveillance. How the hell are they going to get a terrorist to wear this thing strapped to their chins? And why the hell would terrorists speak to each other by just moving their lips? They'd use their real voices, meaning the people listening just need a good listening device. They have those already

      Undercover CIA Agent: Umm your epidermis is showing, allah doesn't like that!
      Potential Terrorist: Oh shit? Really? How can I hi
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gary Yogurt (664063) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:44AM (#8596214)
    Isn't that lip-reading technology we had on that Jupiter mission three years ago good enough?
  • finally... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mattkime (8466) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:45AM (#8596220)
    ....they can hear you scream in space.
  • A little confused (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Robert1 (513674)
    What I don't quite understand, and the article doesn't make clear; is this thing essentially reading what you're verbally thinking?
    Or is it just intercepting those nerve signals which you use to inaudibly mumble to yourself with?
    If the first is true, then wow, imagine just thinking to your computer and it doing it.
    If the second is true then I don't really see what's so great about it :/
    • by tsunamifirestorm (729508) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:48AM (#8596241) Homepage
      the ability to "hear" inaudible conversation is valuable in case there is a lot of outside noide (explosion?) or for psychological reasons (a crew member mutters something under his breath)
    • No real difference (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TekGoNos (748138)
      While you think verbally, you normally mumble to your self.

      I know for sure that it's always the case when you read (except for some spead-reading technics that involve just looking at the text without formulating the words) and I'm pretty sure it's true for all verbal thougths.
    • Could be nice for various things that currently use a regular microphone, but could beneft from more privacy (people around you can't hear what you are saying) and outside noise reduction (won't pick up noise from your surroundings). If voice rec technology improves a bit, this could be a great way to make a truly useful smartphone. Simple input method that eliminates the need for thumb-cramping "keyboards", would work well in tandem with pen input and handles the phone mic as well.

      Could also make for some

  • by Anaxagor (211917) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:46AM (#8596231)
    Now I'll have to break out some more aluminium and extend the tinfoil hat into a full-face helmet.
  • by william_lorenz (703263) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:46AM (#8596234) Homepage
    I wonder if this could benefit Stephen Hawking [abc.net.au]? Good thing he's got friends at NASA. ;)
    • Well, Hawking has a muscle disorder. Exactly what is involved in ALS is beyond me, whether it's just the muscles or if it's a problem with the nerves getting the signals to the muscles. If the problem is the formor, it may save him a lot of typing. If it's the latter, it would be of no use.
      • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:52AM (#8596519) Homepage
        Well, Hawking has a muscle disorder. Exactly what is involved in ALS is beyond me, whether it's just the muscles or if it's a problem with the nerves getting the signals to the muscles. If the problem is the formor, it may save him a lot of typing. If it's the latter, it would be of no use.

        ALS [wikipedia.org] affects the motor neurons themselves, resulting in the signals never reaching the muscles. Oversimplified it's much like a an electric motor with a broken wire: the motor might be fine, but it gets no electricity and subsequently does nothing. ALS is the same, but human muscles also suffer serious deteriouration when not being used.

        In any case this technology it would be of no use, as the muscles are fine, but the nerves aren't.
  • by SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:48AM (#8596239)
    The title implies that this technology could predict speech before it is said, but the article explains that it can simply read people's conscious thoughts as they are occurring. Those seem to be two completely different things to me.
    • Most (all?) people actually "speak" when they think in words. This is most observable while reading.

      When you think (or read) "banana" your brain creates the same signals (but at lower magnitude) as if you would say it. Your tongue actually moves while your reading. Experiments with mute people have shown that they actually move their hands slightly, as if they were forming the words, they read, in sign-language.

      This technology does not read your thoughts, but the signals send to your vocal system. As it c
  • Lie Detector (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nermal6693 (622898) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:49AM (#8596245)
    This could potentially take a lie detector to a new level - people are likely going to think over their possible responses before replying, and this could be used to obtain those thoughts. Scary.
    • Re:Lie Detector (Score:3, Insightful)

      by trmj (579410)
      Well, it could be scary, or it could be very helpful. Current lie dector tests rely on your nervous reactions to questions and answers. First they ask control questions, such as "What is your name?" or "Where are you from?" and then they ask the real ones.

      On most people, "Did you rape [insert name here]?" will get a much different response than "What was your dog's name?" However, if you could read their sub-vocal patterns, you would be better able to tell who is practicing a lie before saying it.

      Seem
      • Re:Lie Detector (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sancho (17056) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:48AM (#8596504) Homepage
        It's scary if you want to be able to lie, or even just don't want your every conscious thought to be available to people.
        Imagine if one day, in the distant future, EVERYONE was required to have one of these, and ALL of their concious thoughts were analyzed in a Carnivore-like system. Thinking, "I'm going to bomb X embassy," even if you have no intention of doing it, could lead to investigations.
        Right now, our thoughts, our minds, are one of the few safe-havens we have. No one can force us to disclose our thoughts, barring the use of some chmicals that sometimes have a truth-inducing effect (fairly rare, though, because all it really makes you do is talk a lot, but not necessarily about what your interrogators want to hear), and these are very active. They have to grab you, inject you, interrogate you, and all this takes quite a bit of time. With subvocalizers, it would be much easier.

        It IS scary, even just as a lie detector, because what if I thought, "Man, that cop is hot!" while they're interrogating me. Pretty embarassing. And it could lead to a whole slew of fifth amendment issues, in the US.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:52AM (#8596259)
    INTERROGATOR: "I'll ask you once more - Did you kill Mrs. Finkelstein?"

    PRISONER: "..."

    INTERROGATOR: "Aha! And where did you hide her body?"

    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @04:30AM (#8596640)


      > INTERROGATOR: "I'll ask you once more - Did you kill Mrs. Finkelstein?"

      PRISONER: [God, what a fine set of tits!] "No."

      INTERROGATOR: [Me, or Mrs. Finkelstein?] "We have the evidence."

    • Could a "taped" confession of inaudible, unspoken words be admissable in court? Is an unspoken answer really an answer? What's to prevent an interrogator from making things up? I think it would be a scary situation for the prosecuting attorney to say, "The computer said he admitted it!" when you know you admitted nothing.

      There must be a perceptible verification of the action. A lot of people are wary of e-voting if there is no paper confirmation of the cast ballot. For legal testimonies, there should be a

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @05:03AM (#8596755)
      VOTING MACHINE: "Democrat, or Republican?"

      VOTER: "Ummm..."

      VOTING MACHINE: "Republican. *DING* Next voter, please!"
  • by Larry David (738420) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:52AM (#8596261)
    <<.. wow .. this device feels kinda neat ... ooooh .. tingly on my adenoids there ... i wonder if it's working ... it would be so cool if it did .. i always dreamed of this as a kid .. oh my god being a kid was great .. i wish i could hug my dad again ..>>

    No, these damn things simply DON'T WORK!!
  • by Thinkit4 (745166) *
    Whenever input (such as artifial eyes) or output (such as this) to consciousness is reported, it's often framed in terms of the handicapped. But it is all humans who are handicapped. Why must we endure pain just to be able to draw blood? As this article mentions, why can't we have private conversations like we can have private listening? What greater goal could there be other than to control the input and output coming from our consciousness?

    Space travel is trivial in comparison.

    • What greater goal could there be other than to control the input and output coming from our consciousness?

      That wouldn't necessarily be a good thing. Did you ever see the ending to Brazil?
    • " But it is all humans who are handicapped. Why must we endure pain just to be able to draw blood?"

      There's a reason why your body's telling you there is a hull breach. Ever notice that when the needle's small enough, it doesn't hurt? Minimal damage.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hook it up to a speaker and you'll be able to have an inner monologue voice over everywhere you go..

    That and theme music would be great...
  • Useful! (Score:2, Funny)

    by SinaSa (709393)
    I could use this in so many situations. I can't name the amount of times I've said something I shouldn't have.

    Nevermind combining this with a microphone or whatever, combine it with an electric pulse attached to my ass so it can stop me from saying stuff that ends up getting me into trouble!
  • Dating (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr. Certainly (762748) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:53AM (#8596271)
    Guys, no matter how geeky and nerdy you want to be, NEVER TAKE THIS INVENTION ON A DATE!
    • Re:Dating (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:50AM (#8596510)
      hmm, where is she... ah, wow, looks almost as good as her picture. kinda shorter than i throught. good rack, though, for an asian girl. too bad about that tummy. oh well, i'd hit it. i hope she doesn't notice the stain on my tie. man, she looks kinda pissed off. oh shit, she's leaving. fuck, there she goes. goddamnit, i totally coulda nailed that one, too. i guess i'll be downloading porn tonight. great, now everyone is staring at me. fucking assholes, never seen a stained tie before?
    • Guys, no matter how geeky and nerdy you want to be, NEVER TAKE THIS INVENTION ON A DATE!

      You know, you say that, but what were to happen if everyone had these on dates?

      After an adjustment period, women would get used to the idea of being told, "wow, you have nice tits" when out on a date with someone that finds them attractive. Sure, initially, many (if not most or even virtually all) women would find it less than pleasant, but they already know every guy's secretly thinking it. When every guy starts

  • by Kulic (122255) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:55AM (#8596277) Homepage
    but it'll probably be years before we see it commercially.

    Imagine using voice commands to control your computer remotely - you're on a croweded bus, using your cell phone to connect to your house computer, telling it subvocally to turn on the airconditioning in time for when you get home, to turn on the coffee maker and download some work from the office and a movie for later. And no one hears anything, and the only thing they can see moving is your throat. What about dictating a letter on your way home, or other documents?

    What about secret service agents? Or the military? No more needing to talk into their sleeves or using noisy radio to give away their position. You could have the conversation turn up on a pda screen, or have an artifical voice piped into ear phones. How cool would that be?

    I'm sure there's lots more stuff you could use this for that I haven't even thought of yet, but I'm betting it is still years away.
  • tinfoil making a new beenie to protect me from RR/Carnivore.. Now I have to run out and buy some more to wrap around my neck!

    Crap...... :-(

  • by Facekhan (445017) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:56AM (#8596281)
    Better start practicing singing a song in your head to block out the thought police. "Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb, Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow..."
    • Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do...

    • Better start practicing singing a song in your head to block out the thought police

      Maybe I'm getting old, but I think it's more likely that under the current administration, I just can't enjoy the innocent thrill of thinking, "Wow, what coll technology!"

      Instead my first thought is, "How soon until that theocrat Ashcroft starts using this to interrogate dissidents?"

      This is perfect for rooting out hidden Muslims -- we're at war, you know --, closeted homosexuals -- Bush's newest appointee has just ruled t
    • Better start practicing singing a song in your head to block out the thought police.

      Good idea, but Mary Had a Little Lamb probably won't cut it. Here are the [cnn.com] lyrics [columbia.edu] you're looking for:

      Let the eagle soar,
      Like she's never soared before.
      From rocky coast to golden shore,
      Let the mighty eagle soar.
      Soar with healing in her wings,
      As the land beneath her sings:
      'Only god, no other kings.'
      This country's far too young to die.
      We've still got a lot of climbing to do,
      And we can make it if we try.
      Built by toils and stru

    • Try sotto voce (subvocal) whistling instead. If you use the speech parts of the brain, it's quite easy to slip up and say something you didn't intend. If you whistle, it's very difficult - if not impossible - to accidentally say anything; you have to stop whistling first, switching focus from your mouth (which is where the whistle is generated) to your vocal cords (for speech.)
    • "Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb, Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow..."

      Assassins' Redoubt, final message.

      We've built the Dream Twister. I feel nauseous already...

  • by r_j_prahad (309298) <r_j_prahad@hotma ... minus herbivore> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @02:57AM (#8596284)
    "Good morning, boss (you clueless moron). What (boring and useless) work have we (pitiful understaffed few) got on the agenda for today (and the rest or our meaningless lives)?"

    "I'm not feeling well (I need a beer to numb my brain after working for you all day). Can I go home (pub crawling) early?"
  • Curses! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Walker2323 (670050)
    I was going to write a comment, but I'm sure those bastards at NASA already know what I was going to say.
  • This is not reading the mind. It is just about interpreting the nerve signals.

    This is not new. Prosthetic hands that operate on nerve signals have been available for decades.

    The reason I started reading slashdot was because it was fairly spin free. I guess I am better off reading the AIT Times. [mithuro.com] It sure has its faults, but it is spin free.

  • Interesting uses... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:00AM (#8596298)
    Navy Seals on a mission: great way to communicate to each other in stealth.

    Sports cheating: communicate perfectly to coach when you are not supposed to.

    Croc Hunter: sneak up on animals in the wild to research, etc, and communicate with team and not startle animals.

    Porn: somehow... someway...

    Government: give tech 20 more years and when these signals can be picked up remotely, let FBI tap the signals without a court order because, hey, there is a War On Terror(TM) to fight.

    Interrorgation: capture truth someone would have wanted/started to say but then held their tounge at the last second.

    Slashdot: this tech + reconition to text + scripting = best chance at first post. Just think about BSD dying, and it's dead!

  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:04AM (#8596321) Homepage
    There are times when we think in complete sentences, and times when we just rely on non-verbal thinking. Generally, the more planned the act, the more likely that complete sentences pass through your brain.

    For instance, you're more likely to simply pick a quarter off the floor than to say, "I am going to pick this quarter off the floor." Whereas, you're very likely to think the sentence, "I should buy some wine on my way home from the market" if that's part of your plans.

    Seems to me that this technology could, in short order, discern the verbal sentences we fashion for ourselves as part of our daily thinking. But it won't ever pick up on the million thoughts we have each day that aren't based on words.

    If this technology gets deployed, society will have to learn in short order that not every thought is legitimate. My verbalizing the thought to myself, "I am Napoleon" does not necessarily mean that I think I am Napoleon.

    One last thought. If we get widespread, cheap deployment of this technology, it will have as big an effect on our lives as the World Wide Web.

    • by zelyan (222028)
      Which of course brings up the question

      Who's going to have the first 24/7 subvocal weblog?

      Who, extending the webcams, is willing to put every single thought they have, enough to subvocalize, out onto the web?

      SubvocalJenny

      Jeff
  • hmmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JeremyALogan (622913)
    as I got half-ways through reading the article I got curious... sure enough, if you take a finger (or 2) and stick them under your throat you can feel it contracting slightly... just when reading. so now the question is: does it happen while I'm typing too, and the answer is YES... I actually spell out my words, and say my punctuation, while typing.

    reminds me of this toy (was it a "transformers" toy?) I had when I was a kid. you'd basically talk into this tube (without talking... just form your words) and
    • I have no idea what you are talking about in reference to a transformers toy, but what you described sounds a whole lot like a 60s voice box. These were popular for a while (hey man, the guitar is talking to me), and were comprised of a speaker connected to a tube, which you put in your mouth. The sound would come out of your mouth, and depending on the shape of your mouth at any given moment distorts the sound (frequency and volume wise).

  • "He's alright I guess."

    "Ha! That's NOT what you where GONNA say!"

    ;-)
  • by lewko (195646)
    I'm just going...out to....stalk....Lenny and...Carl......
  • God help us all if there's a problem with the AE-35 unit.
  • Does it still work then?
  • cellular phones ! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by S3D (745318) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:19AM (#8596390)
    At last I will not have to hear four persons shouting in their phones just around my pen in the open space. And there will not be those mad-looking people talking into the empty space on the street. On the other side, someone who talk other the phone a lot may forget actually produce sounds while talking with somebody nearby.
  • by kundor (757951) <kundor&member,fsf,org> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:29AM (#8596436) Homepage
    by making this post choosing Microsoft's speech recognition It is obvious that vocal largest speech recognition an needs and a lot of work before some vocal recognition challenges can be considered feasible

    Translation: I am making this post using Microsoft's speech recognition. It is obvious that vocalized speech recognition needs a lot of work before subvocal recognition challenges can be considered feasible.
    I mean, when with full sound you can't get good dictation, the possibility of eeking it out of throat twitches are fairly low, methinks.

  • by zytheran (100908) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @03:39AM (#8596473)
    .. not what you think is printed before your eyes get around to reading it.

    "A person using the subvocal system thinks of phrases and talks to himself so quietly it cannot be heard, but the tongue and vocal cords do receive speech signals from the brain,"

    Notice the phrase "..talks to himself so quietly.."?
    This is NOT the same as "thinks to himself"

    i.e.you mouth the words but don't blow air through your airway so no noise is made.

    it's not friggin' mind reading..unlike most of the level 5 posts seem to think.

    • Ugh, dude...

      You might want to read the article again.

      "Biological signals arise when reading or speaking to oneself with or without actual lip or facial movement."

      Notice the part that says "without actual lip or facial movement"? So we have, "talking to yourself", and "no lip or facial movement". That sounds a lot like "thinking to yourself" to me.

      -asoap

  • Seen this before (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Snafoo (38566) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @04:00AM (#8596547) Homepage
    As another poster mentioned, in OSC's Ender novels, as well as in David Brin's _Earth_. As a matter of fact, the latter described the device almost precisely as described here. Brin even thought of some important caveats: given how difficult it is for the average human being to keep their thoughts on track for 0.2ms, the thing is almost impossible to use for more than 0.3ms. (The extra 0.1ms is the length of time it takes to think 'FORKING PIECE OF SHI.zza!@EOF' as you reach for the sensors.)

    So don't get too excited, all you ADD, quasi-ADD and just plain procrastinatory slashdotters -- whoever ends up using this tech won't be you. :)
  • Because it'll pick up so many swearwords that normally never quite make it into an open plan office that it'll be next to useless ;-)
  • It seems that the technology that was created will be used to hear words that have not yet been created... perhaps if this technology was created earlier, we would have all been spared the abomination that is: METROSEXUAL!
  • More Practical Uses (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Grip3n (470031) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @04:20AM (#8596607) Homepage
    Anyone else here feel that getting those words not yet spoken would be an absolute breakthrough in relationships with their girlfriends? Man that would have saved my butt countless times...
  • Douglas Adams... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Loonacy (459630)
    Am I the only one who thought about that telepathic race of aliens in HHGTTG where they are constantly talking so their brain doesn't broadcast every thought they're having?
    It's an interesting idea, though. If the FBI/CIA/KGB/MIB get ahold of you and try to interrogate you with this, just start spouting random words, it'll garble the rest of what they're trying to make you think out loud.
  • goon: what is your greatest fear?

    me: rats! i mean...rats, i hate these questions...row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream...
  • by malahoo (128370) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @04:44AM (#8596697) Homepage
    "The keys to this system are the sensors, the signal processing and the pattern recognition, and that's where the scientific meat of what we're doing resides." Jorgensen said

    IOW, "The key to this system is the entire system."

  • Old news (Score:5, Funny)

    by Underholdning (758194) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @05:14AM (#8596783) Homepage Journal
    I've had a device that could detect (and react) to words I haven't even spoken yet, for years now. I call the device "wife".
  • by master_p (608214) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @07:23AM (#8597150)
    Could it be used for people that have their vocal cords destroyed ?
  • by WebMasterJoe (253077) <joe&joestoner,com> on Thursday March 18, 2004 @09:38AM (#8597686) Homepage Journal
    Transcript of the thoughts of everyone they tested:
    He doesn't know what I'm thinking.
    ...
    Ok, that was a lucky guess.
    So was that.
    And that.
    Whoa, this is getting weird.
  • by fygment (444210) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @10:03AM (#8597879)
    Simply take a vocal sample of the person of interest. Now think your words and with a little quick signal processing out comes the voice of the person of interest speaking your words. Fun at parties and for police mounting "sting" operations. Possibly could render recorded conversations inadmissible as evidence.

  • Oh god, the cheating (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Iowaguy (621828) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @11:03AM (#8598503)
    As an educator, I see a nightmare if this technology goes mainstream. Kids will send messages through calculators, which is bad enough. How the hell would you stop this?

    -Iowa
    • by ediron2 (246908) *
      When I was the bright scrawny little one who the gorrillas were cheating off of, I used to resort to tactics to 'educate' them. I'd give the same (flawed) answers to 2 or 3 people, so they'd be separated and watched closely on the next test.

      Shifting to this story's context, I think the headset (or whatever gadget form this takes) will be a bit obvious for now. And I think worrying about cheating in the face of improved communication tools is fairly silly... we're so far from an invisible, ubiquitous, enc

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