Lip-Reading Cell Phones Could Enable Silent Conversation

One the problems with cellphones is that they force personal conversations out into the world. Arguing with your spouse? Speaking your PIN and Social Security number to a customer service rep? Having an intimate chat on a cross-country bus trip? Cellphones make all those private details available to anyone who’s listening. But with the soundless communication designed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), you can hold a phone conversation in complete silence.

The KIT system works via electromyographic sensors that attach to the face. The sensors measure the movement of facial muscles related to speech, and converts the movements into sound on the other end of the line. Potentially, by recalibrating the sensors to correct for injuries or defects, this technology could allow the speech-impaired to speak again.

With this device, the next time you’re talking to your bank on the bus, or conversing with your mistress while at home, what you want private remains private. Of course, you will have to wear electrodes on your face, and that might tip some people off that you’re trying to hide something.