This device, invented by Delhi-born MIT student, helps you speak ‘without words’ - Hindustan Times
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This device, invented by Delhi-born MIT student, helps you speak ‘without words’. What it is, how it works?

Jul 21, 2023 03:47 PM IST

Developed by Arnav Kapur, the system is called ‘AlterEgo.’

Arnav Kapur, who was born in Delhi and is studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has designed AlterEgo, a device that people can use to communicate with machines and humans without opening their mouth or making physical gestures.

Arnav Kapur with his 'AlterEgo' device (Image courtesy: MIT)
Arnav Kapur with his 'AlterEgo' device (Image courtesy: MIT)

What is AlterEgo?

According to MIT, where Kapur is currently studying Media Arts and Sciences, having arrived in the United States for his masters and PhD from the university, AlterEgo facilitates the interaction, whether from a human to machine, or from one person to another, through ‘internal articulation of words.’

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“It is a non-invasive, wearable, peripheral neural interface that allows humans to converse in natural language with machines, artificial intelligence (AI) assistants, services, and other people without any voice, simply by articulating words internally,” noted MIT.

How does the communication happen?

A viral video shows Kapur, who is wearing the device, being asked a series of questions by an interviewer. The Delhi-born student responds to each question almost instantly without saying anything. This prompts the interviewer to remark, "You have the entire internet in your head.'

For this communication, the system captures peripheral neural signals when internal speech articulators are activated during a user's internal articulation of words. This, in turn, enables the user to transmit to and receive information from a machine/person, without the sender, however, making any observable action.

Where will the system be used?

As per MIT, the project is primarily meant for individuals with speech disorders, including, among other conditions, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MS (multiple sclerosis). Beyond that, the institute says, it has the potential to seamlessly integrate computing into people's daily lives as their ‘second self’ (hence the AlterEgo name), and augment their cognition and abilities.

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