The academic project works by having users mouth letters to spell words — without actually speaking them.
By Richard Nieva
A project led by one of the key creators of Google Glass, the tech giant’s influential but ultimately ill-fated smart eyewear, aims to let people have conversations without talking or using their hands to type, sign, or gesture.
Called SilentSpeller, the project is a communication system that allows people to send texts using a high-tech dental retainer to spell out words without actually voicing them, according to a demo video and academic paper reviewed by BuzzFeed News. The device works by tracking the movement of the user’s tongue. Researchers claim the system identifies letters with 97% accuracy, and 93% accuracy for entire words.
The research is the brainchild of Thad Starner, a pioneer in wearable technology. Starner played a lead technical role in developing Google Glass, the much-hyped device that helped introduce the world to a new genre of gadgets beyond smartphones. But the device courted controversy and pushed the bounds of society’s relationship with technology when Google introduced it almost a decade ago. SilentSpeller, by contrast, is a research project out of the Georgia Institute of Technology, where Starner is a professor, so the goal for now is more academic than product road map.
However, the device could eventually be used to help people with movement disorders including Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, Starner told BuzzFeed News in an interview. He also sees potential consumer applications, like hands-free communication in really quiet places, like a library, or really loud places where people would have to strain their voices to be heard.
To develop SilentSpeller, researchers didn’t create a whole new retainer from scratch. Instead, they jury-rigged an existing product called SmartPalate, which looks like the kind of retainer used by orthodontists but is loaded with tiny sensors to track tongue movement for speech therapy. Software creates a visual map of how someone’s tongue functions while speaking, but while SmartPalate’s primary use is to help people correct speech disorders, researchers working on SilentSpeller adapted the system to transform the retainer into a communications tool.
Continue reading… “One Of The Creators Of Google Glass Is Experimenting With A Smart Retainer For Texting With Your Tongue”