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NASA's subvocal speech system

Peter Rojas
NASA sub-vocal

A bunch of scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center in California are working on a way for people to talk without making a sound or opening their mouths (we know you're secretly going to miss all those people chattering away on their cellies during movies and meals). Basically it's a new subvocal speech system that uses sensors attached to the neck that measure nerve signals used to control your vocal chords and other muscles used for speech. The sensors pick up the activity of neurons which fire whether or not you're actually verbalizing something, so essentially you can just think what you want to say and the system will translate that into words. It's all in the early prototype stages—so far the system can only recognize about twenty words, and is just now being taught how to suss out vowels and consonants—but they're already figuring out how to get the technology onto cellphones and into firefighter gear and have successfully tested with a person who lost the use of their larynx. So how long until someone builds a shotgun sensor that can read your thoughts from 50 feet away?

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