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'Silent Communication' Lets You Talk Without Speaking

One day, Professor Tanja Shultz of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology grew annoyed at a fellow train passenger who was loudly squawking into their cell phone. "I thought 'I need to change this'," she recently told the BBC, after unveiling -- at the Cebit Electronics Fair in Germany -- a device that can essentially read lips. Called "silent communication," Shultz's system would allow cell phone users to move their mouths without actually speaking, allowing for a totally voiceless conversation.

Utilizing nine electrodes stuck to the user's face, the prototype detects the electrical potentials from the muscles that move during speech. The electromyographic pulses are amplified and sent wirelessly to a laptop, which then translates the signals into a synthesized speaking voice. Shultz says that the technology could be used to help people who have lost the ability to speak, which is a perfectly reasonable application. Still, imagining how this might be implemented on a mass scale leaves us a little bewildered.

When people first started using Bluetooth ear pieces, we all agreed that it looked like they were jabbering to themselves like mental patients. (On occasion, we're still tricked by that.) Just imagine throngs of people walking around, silently moving their mouths like a school of fish. Isn't there something sort of, say, vital about speech? Let's not turn to tech to silence ourselves. [From: BBC]

Tags: accessibility, cebit, cellphone, electromyography, KarlsruheInstituteOfTechnology, SilentCommunication, top