MASSACHUSETTS: Delhi-born Arnav Kapur, a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has developed a device known as ‘AlterEgo’, an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled ‘mind-reading’ headset. The device, whose prototype debuted in 2018, lets users converse with machines, AI assistants and other people by articulating words internally. Communication is entirely private and internal when bone conduction is used to send and receive streams of information. This essentially means that one can order a pizza or a subway without any conversation after wearing the device.
According to MIT, “AlterEgo is a non-invasive, wearable, peripheral neural interface that allows humans to converse in natural language with machines, artificial intelligence assistants, services, and other people without any voice-without opening their mouth, and without externally observable movements-simply by articulating words internally.”
The user receives feedback via audio via bone conduction, which keeps the interface closed-loop and does not interfere with the user’s normal auditory experience. This makes it possible for a user to connect with a computer in a way that they see as entirely internal to themselves, almost like talking to themselves. This project’s main goal is to support communication for those with speech difficulties, especially those suffering from diseases like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Multiple Sclerosis.
A video of Mr Kapur using the device has gone viral on social media. In the video, the interviewer asks Mr Kapur questions and he responds them almost instantly without uttering a single word. The interviewer then exclaims “You have the entire internet in your head”.
As per MIT, Mr Kapur has been fond of science, maths and arts. He says that “are all important to consider not as separate disciplines, but as complements when attempting to find solutions to problems in the world”. He is currently doing his PhD at MIT where he is currently studying Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab.
“Arnav has an extensive list of accomplishments, with inventions that include a 3D printable drone, a new platform to measure gene expressions at large scale, and a device called Drishti that helps to rehabilitate the visually impaired. He has also worked on a lunar rover that is intended to land on the moon and relay pictures back to Earth. In addition, Arnav co-developed a new age art installation that has been on display at the Tate Modern in London and at the alt-AI conference in New York,” the MIT website added. He was also featured in TIME’s 100 Best Inventions of 2020.