Facebook has announced that they will be acquiring neural interface startup CTRL-Labs. The company has made a wristband capable of transmitting electrical signals from the brain into a computer input.
According to CNBC reports the deal is around $1 billion and it is the most substantial acquisition Facebook has made in the last half decade after it paid $2 billion to acquire virtual reality company Oculus VR back in 2014. This will be a substantial increase in investment for Facebook’s growing hardware ambitions, as the CTRL-Labs tech will use in future augmented and virtual reality projects at the social networking platforms.
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The head of AR and VR at Facebook, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, made the announcement on his personal Facebook page. He said that CTRL-Labs, that was co-founded by Internet Explorer creator and neuroscientist Thomas Reardon, will be joining our Facebook Reality Labs team where we are hoping to build this kind of technology and get it into consumer products faster.”
CTRL-Labs’ co-founder of Patrick Kaifosh and he is also a neuroscientist. Reardon, the company’s CEO, left his career in software engineering to study neuroscience and got his PhD in 2016. The company was founded one year before and it has raised $67 million in venture capital.
It is interesting to note that, CTRL-Labs purchased a series of patents earlier this year around the Myo armband. It is a gesture and motion control device developed by North, formerly known as Thalmic Labs. The Myo armband is capable of measuring electromyography, or EEG, for translating muscle activity into gesture-related software inputs. But now North moved on from the product and now they are making a stylish pair of AR glasses known as Focals.
According to Bosworth, CTRL-Labs’ wristband will act as an instrumental in developing new ways of interacting with machines without any need of traditional mouse-and-keyboard setups, touchscreens, or any other form of physical controller. He said that the Technology similar to this will be having potential to open up new creative possibilities and remaining the 19th century inventions in a 21st century world,” he writes. He continued to said that “This is how the future of interactions in VR and AR will appear one day. It can change the way we connect with each other.”
It is important to note that for Facebook, the acquisition will be representing a renewed commitment in the type of futuristic tech that will be appeared to elude the company’s Building 8 initiative. It is an experimental lab modeled after Google’s X division that will be briefly run by former DARPA director Regina Dugan. The lab struggled for producing any meaningful research or products, beyond Facebook’s Portal video chat device. This was eventually shut down and its various projects split up between various other divisions.
Last week, news came out that Facebook will be designing two different models of AR glasses. One will be like Snap Spectacles and another said to be a standalone Google Glass-style device. The later one will be a prime candidate for the kind of interface tech CTRL-Labs has developed.
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