A newly published video demonstrates applications for a unique wearable under development at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. The wearable is called 'AlterEgo' and can listen to your 'inner voice' to deliver intelligence augmentation - or smart device style functionality.
Explaining how this device works in more detail, the MIT News blog reports that the wearable contains electrodes in the jaw and face areas that "are triggered by internal verbalizations — saying words 'in your head' - but are undetectable to the human eye". Machine learning has been leveraged so the system understands a certain array of useful vocabulary.
Thanks to the above sensors being partnered with a pair of bone-conduction headphones, the user can silently query the computer, for example, and silently receive smart intelligence augmentation via synthesized voice.
The intelligence augmentations can be simple or quite complex. In the video you can see that the wearable is used for trivial but useful tasks like keeping track of the cost of your shopping or navigating a smart TV UI. In a more complicated application, the AlterEgo can be used for keeping track of moves in chess, for example, then suggesting counter-moves (though the video shows a game of Go, not chess).
Arnav Kapur, a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, led the development of the new system. Talking to MIT News, Kapur said that he was motivated to build the AlterEgo to create an extension for human cognition. Current smart devices are much more cumbersome to interact with while out and about. Another observation is that wearables such as Google Glass, which include visual processing, clearly impinge upon the privacy of others.
Possible applications for the AlterEgo exist in noisy environments, and conversely in stealth situations, or for use by people who are disabled or incapacitated in some way.