AlterEgo, MIT’s vocal assistant project, only listens to your inner voice

Using a vocal assistant, such as Siri for example, can quickly become uncomfortable for some people who do not really want to be seen talking to their phones in public. Some MIT students created AlterEgo, a vocal assistant listening to its users’ inner voice.

Thanks to these MIT students, talking to your vocal assistant on your phone will soon be part of the past. AlterEgo, some kind of futuristic Siri, reads its users’ mind, or at least listen to their inner voice. No need to talk to use this new artificial intelligence, only to “tell ourselves” the sentences we would have usually tell such a device.

The electrodes arranged next to the users’ jaw allow the device to get data directly on its face without obstructing its audition, like a set of headphones could for instance. That way, he can still participate in a conversation with friends. The teams behind the prototype explained that their goal was to “blend the human and the machine to create some kind of mind cognition extension.”

From really noisy environments to totally silent ones

The students who tries this device started by calibrating it (from 10 to 15 minutes according to the report sent out by Alter Ego’s teams) to make it more sensitive to their own neurological physiology. They all computed different things with AlterEgo afterwards. On their 90 minutes tests, success rates go up to 92%. Not bad at all when some of the classic voice assistant are still not at a 100% success rate either.

Regarding the use of such a device, the MIT students thought of several options. For public users, this machine could allow them to use a vocal assistant without having to stop a friend mid-sentence or to get your phone out of your pocket to check something on it. No more concentration loss thanks to it. Plus, certain people with disabilities, such as ones that keep them for communicating with their voice, could use AlterEgo to speak again.

The other possibility is a professional use of this tool. For instance, using it in very loud environments (factories, airports…) or, on the contrary, in very silent ones (police forces for example). In both cases, AlterEgo could allow workers to talk to each other in more efficient ways in these kinds of settings.

Credits : Lorrie Lejeune / MIT

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