Neckband that allows 'voiceless' mobile chat without having to speak

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London, March 13 : A US company has demonstrated a "voiceless" phone call for the first time, using a neckband that translates thought into speech by picking up nerve signals.

Ambient Corporation claims that any person can use the Audeo, as the new device is called, to send nerve signals to their vocal cords without having to speak.

Michael Callahan, one of the founders of the company, says that the signals picked up by the neckband are relayed wirelessly to a computer that converts them into words spoken by a computerised voice.

A user only needs to take a careful training on how to use the device, he says.

With the new system, the first public voiceless phone call was made on stage at a recent conference, held by microchip manufacturer Texas Instruments.

Callahan says that the Audeo's ability to voice people's inner thoughts need not worry them, as producing signals for the system to decipher requires "a level above thinking".

He says that a user has to think specifically about voicing words in order that they are picked up by the equipment.

Callahan also said that the Audeo is the same system that had previously been used to let people control wheelchairs using their thoughts.

"I can still talk verbally at the same time. We can differentiate between when you want to talk silently, and when you want to talk out loud," New Scientist quoted him as saying.

He said that the new system might be beneficial for those wishing not to be overheard while making a private call, and for those have lost the ability to speak due to neurological diseases like ALS, also known as motor neurone disease.

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