What is AlterEgo?
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 feedback to the user is given through audio, via bone conduction, without disrupting the user's usual auditory perception, and making the interface closed-loop. This enables an human-computer interaction that is subjectively experienced as completely internal to the human user—like speaking to one's self. AlterEgo seeks to combine humans and computers—such that computing, the Internet, and AI would weave into human personality as an internal “second self” and augment human cognition and abilities.
The wearable system captures peripheral neural signals when internal speech articulators are volitionally and neurologically activated, during a user's internal articulation of words. This enables a user to transmit and receive streams of information to and from a computing device or any other person without any observable action, in discretion, without unplugging the user from her environment, without invading the user's privacy.
The vision of closely coupling humans and machines has been advanced and re-imagined in successive iterations. Input devices have come a long way since punchcards and present day input modalities have enabled computing devices to become an intrinsic parts of our lives. Keyboards (or typewriter style input devices) replaced punch cards to facilitate text input on early computers. The modern age of mobile and ubiquitous computing ushered in the widespread adoption of voice inputs for communication and searchapplications.
Natural user interfaces (NUI) including gesture-based inputs, touch and voice have been touted as natural extensions of the human persona. Despite significant advances made, machines, input modalities and interactivity still exist as external artifacts to the human user, in an obstacle to fully realize symbiosis of humans and machines.
We present AlterEgo a wearable silent speech interface that allows a user to provide arbitrary text input to a computing device or other people using natural language, without discernible muscle movements and without any voice. This allows the user to communicate to their computing devices in natural language without any observable action at all and without explicitly saying anything.
AlterEgo, allows people to privately and seamlessly communicate with their personal computing devices, services and other people, such that users leverage the power of computing in their daily lives, as a natural adjunct to their own cognitive abilities, without “replacing” or “obstructing” these abilities.