MIT researchers have unveiled a headset that allows you to communicate with a computer by internally verbalizing words that are picked up by special sensors.

Called AlterEgo, this headset consists of electrodes that pick up neuromuscular signals that are created when a user internally verbalizes words, but does not speak them out loud. These signals are then sent to a machine learning system that is able to interpret the signals as words.

Also included in the headset are a pair of bone-conduction headphones that transmit vibrations that are picked up by the inner ear and are interpreted as words from the computer. This allows the computer to silently communicate with the user, without blocking the ear canal and obstructing the user’s hearing.

These technologies allow the researchers to communicate silently with the computer system, while getting answers to questions or sending data that will be used for computational tasks. For example, the headset could be used to provide advice on how to win a game, get the time, or to keep a running tally of items you are purchasing at a store as shown in the video below.

Arnav Kapur, a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, who led the development of AlterEgo, explains that it was developed as Intelligence-augmentation device that aims to make the computer an extension the users as they silently retrieve information and perform computation tasks on the go.

“The motivation for this was to build an IA device — an intelligence-augmentation device,” says Arnav Kapur, a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, who led the development of the new system. “Our…