Science renders mobile industry speechless

17 Mar 2008
00:00

The great thing about living in the 21st century is that every day seems to bring us a little closer to transforming the science fiction of youth into reality.

Today's step towards the sci-fi future: making voice calls by telepathy.

New Scientist reports that Ambient Corp and Texas Instruments have demonstrated a neckband called Audeo that translates thought into speech by picking up nerve signals headed for the vocal cords. Result: a "voiceless" phone call.

That's not to say the Audeo picks up any random thoughts - users have to think specifically about voicing words for the band to pick them up, Ambient co-founder Michael Callahan says.

The technology has also been used to let people control wheelchairs, and the Audeo may be initially aimed at people who have lost the ability to speak due to neurological diseases like ALS (motor neurone disease). But it could also be used for conducting private mobile phone conversations in public, Callahan tells New Scientist.

Which could mean one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in mobile history: a way to allow stupid people to talk on the phone in movie theaters without bothering the rest of us.

Oh, who am I kidding‾ They'll probably just learn to carry on two conversations at once.

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