Sometimes, the tech industry is confronted with rapid advancements in computing, technology that was never before seen or even imagined. The iPhone was one such invention, revolutionizing how people communicate and use the internet, creating a mobile generation.
This week, straight out of a science fiction novel, Facebook revealed it was skipping the touch screen altogether and was working to tap into users' brains.
Regina Dugan, head of Facebook's Building 8, asked, "what if you could type directly from your brain?" Dugan is the former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), brought on by Facebook last year to lead Building 8 and construct advanced technologies. This week, the social network revealed what Building 8 has been working on.
Turns out, the advanced research group is trying to construct "a brain mouse" to allow users to type using their thoughts, the company revealed at the Facebook F8 developer conference, CNBC reports. The "brain-computer speech-to-text interface" would translate thoughts to a computer without having to use a keyboard. Or hands. Or even feet, for that matter.
Once the technology is a reality, users will be able to "type five times faster" than they can with a smartphone, taking advantage of the computing power of the human brain, Dugan said.
Oh, and Facebook is also working to let you hear with your skin.
All of Facebook's advanced research efforts center around making computing more accessible, particularly to deaf or blind populations, becoming a "speech prosthetic." Facebook has dedicated 60 scientists to the project.
TWITTER: Editing tweets is too complicated to implement— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) April 19, 2017
FACEBOOK: Someday you will hear with your skin
The technology has a long ways to go. Many are skeptical that the brain mouse can be achieved without installing an invasive sensor into someone's head. Right now the research group is using optical imaging to test the project to avoid having to implant devices into people's brains. As Dugan said, "if we fail, it's going to suck."
There's a spy among us, kill on sight
The creators of "My Friend Cayla" probably thought they were on to something with a doll that can talk to and interact with a child, sharing photos, playing games and reading stories to adoring owners. She even speaks different languages, has a Bluetooth range of 30 feet and has a companion app for either Apple iOS or Android.
But it turns out the doll is not so innocent. Recently, the German government ordered parents to find and destroy Cayla, banning its sale, purchase and ownership, The Wall Street Journal reports. The privacy-conscious German government said the doll was an illegal eavesdropping device, fighting back against internet connected children's toys it says could maliciously watch children.
What if a parent just wants a child to be happy, leaving the interactive doll to freely interact with children? The German government will have nothing of the sort, warning parents they face a $26,500 fine and two years in prison if they refuse to comply with the destruction order, according to the report.
Other connected toys, however, are off the hook from the government's authority because they did not disguise communication, showed when a microphone was on, and protected against outside interference, the report states. So "Hello Barbi" and "Dino" remain safe.
The doll is yet another example fo the rise of the Internet of Things and the creation of new endpoints. Those endpoints, however, are often not adequately secured and offer malicious actors opportunities to take control of devices.
"Even the most innocent looking devices like Cayla the Doll could be construed as sensors, since they have the ability to collect data and are potentially connected to the internet," said Mark Testoni, CEO of SAP NS2, in a statement. "Beyond these collection and access issues, there are data protection concerns, like if hackers or other bad actors gain access to this information."
One last thing
The cloud wars continue to rage, but this time the rhetoric has ramped up. Larry Ellison, Oracle founder, executive chairman and CTO, has targeted Amazon Web Service's cloud lead for months now, arguing the cloud giant's "lead is over."
But AWS CEO Andy Jassy is biting back. Speaking at the AWS summit in San Francisco this week, Jassy said, customers are "sick" of vendor lock-in, targeting Oracle's business model.
"People are very sensitive about being locked in given the experience they've had the last 10 to 15 years," Jassy said, CNBC reports. "When you look at cloud, it's nothing like being locked into Oracle."