Facebook creates device that helps you read email and SMS using your skin

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It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie but Facebook has developed a device that lets you read emails and messages with your skin.

The cast like device was revealed by Facebook at a conference in Canada this week and allows the wearer to translate text into ‘pokes’ on their skin.

Researchers say the device could help people with visual or spoken impairments communication more easily.

The device works by using haptic sensors that cause vibrations to the arm which match up with certain sounds or phonemes.

Phonemes are the units of sounds you learn when you first learn to speak. For example, ‘cat’ has three sounds: /c/ /a/ and /t/, while ‘boat’ is made up of /b/ at the start, /oa/ in the middle and /t/ at the end.

In a study, researchers said they were able to teach participants to feel four different phonemes in just three minutes.

After an hour, participants were able to recognise 100 words, researchers explained.

“Our demonstration shows that naïve users can quickly learn the tactile coding, generalize it to new words, and use them in structured sentences for everyday discreet communication, all within 3 minutes,” said Ali Israr, the technical lead for the project.

Researchers said they used braille as an example of how touch or vibration can be used as a tool to aid communication.

The study came out of Facebook’s secretive Building 8 division which is reportedly working on a number of projects including science fiction like brain scanning technology and an augmented reality camera.

Via: MIT Technology Review

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