Friday Futures: psychic hearing aids, robocops and biobots

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Welcome to Friday Futures, our weekly guide to the latest visions of The Future from around the web. This week: A hearing aid that reads your brain; thought-Googling; audio-only translator; robocops; biobots; Bitcoin logins; 5G phone numbers; and the Internet of Very Silly Things.

A hearing aid that can read your brain

If you’re hard of hearing, it can be tricky to make out a single speaker in a noisy room. Researchers at Columbia University have revealed a system that reads your brain’s auditory cortex to pick out the voice you’re trying to listen to and amplify it. Read more …

When the voice in your head needs to Google something …

TED Fellow Arnav Kapur introduces AlterEgo: a wearable AI device with the potential to let you silently talk to and get information from a computer system, like a voice inside your head.

One step closer to the Babel fish

A new experimental research project from Google called Translatotron takes spoken sentences in one language and outputs spoken words in another — but unlike most translation techniques, it’s a strictly audio solution that uses no intermediate text. Read more …

Don’t get the Babel Fish reference?

Watch this.

Robocops for traffic stops

A robotics researcher at SRI International has unveiled a robot that allows police officers in the US to conduct traffic stops without leaving their vehicle. The idea is to reduce confrontations between police officers and motorists by reducing the impact of racial bias. Read more …

South Korean military wants biobots by 2024

South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) reportedly plans to incorporate “biomimetics” equipment (biometric robots) inspired by humans and insects into military operations by 2024. After that, it will look at biobots based on from birds, snakes, and various marine creatures. Read more …

Microsoft reveals a digital ID system based on … wait, Bitcoin?

Microsoft has unveiled a digital identity project that uses the blockchain technology that underpins Bitcoin to give you control of your own login credentials, independent of any company. The question is whether you’ll want to take on the responsibility. Read more …

Japan needs 10 billion new phone numbers to support 5G

Japan’s communications ministry plans to create around 10 billion 14-digit phone numbers starting with the code “020.” The reason: with 5G set to go commercial in the country next year, the ministry expects to run out of 11-digit numbers as early as fiscal 2022. Read more …

Because the IoT isn’t nearly silly enough …

Designer Ivan Poupyrev wants to integrate technology into everyday objects to make them more useful and fun — like a jacket you can use to answer phone calls or a houseplant you can play like a keyboard.

(Compiled and edited by John C Tanner)

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