An MIT student has created a form of wearable tech that he can control with his brain.

A new piece in Future Human makes Arnav Kapur’s invention sound like something out of a science fiction novel. “Improbably, AlterEgo, the soundless, voiceless, earbud-less device he’d been working on for the last two years had become adept enough at reading his thoughts that he could use it to order an Uber without saying a word,” wrote reporter Rachel Slade. Both Kapur and the AlterEgo went viral in tech circles when he uploaded a short YouTube video featuring him going about his day using the device.

Viewers see Kapur go about his day while doing things like asking his machine for the time and the price of items in the grocery store. The AlterEgo managed to do all of those things without Kapur actually speaking or making any hand gestures.

“I think the future of human society is about us collaborating with machines,” he told Future Human. He also said he did not think that machines like the AlterEgo would be seen as unusual or odd in the future. “This is how we’re going to live our lives.”

Kapur’s device is also being praised for being simple and not invasive. Created by a 3-D printer, the AlterEgo hugs the user’s jaw and uses Bluetooth to connect to the Internet. While the machine is quite conspicuous right now, Kapur says it will eventually be smaller and more discreet.

As with more conventional technological assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, many wonder about what it means when artificial intelligence has access to our homes and (in this case) inner thoughts. According to Kapur, AlterEgo’s design made such worries unfounded because it only picks up the signals the user wants it to.

“A.I. itself isn’t bad, but we still have discussions about possible abuses of the technology,” he said. “So we try to build the tech to fit the principles that we developed.”


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