Facebook today announced that it is acquiring CTRL-labs, a New York-based startup developing technology that would allow humans to control computers using their brains. CNBC reports that the deal is valued at approximately $1 billion.
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As part of the acquisition, CTRL-labs will join Facebook’s Reality Labs division, which is also working on developing augmented reality glasses. Facebook’s vice president of AR/VR, Andrew Bosworth, confirmed the acquisition in a post, praising the CTRL-labs technology as opening up “new creative possibilities.”
Technology like this has the potential to open up new creative possibilities and reimagine 19th century inventions in a 21st century world. This is how our interactions in VR and AR can one day look. It can change the way we connect.
Bosworth also offers a brief explanation of how the technology will work using a wristband that’s a “natural extension of movement.”
The vision for this work is a wristband that lets people control their devices as a natural extension of movement. Here’s how it’ll work: You have neurons in your spinal cord that send electrical signals to your hand muscles telling them to move in specific ways such as to click a mouse or press a button.
The wristband will decode those signals and translate them into a digital signal your device can understand, empowering you with control over your digital life. It captures your intention so you can share a photo with a friend using an imperceptible movement or just by, well, intending to.
CTRL-labs was founded in 2015 and recently secured $28 million in funding from companies including Amazon. The company was founded by Thomas Reardon and Patrick Kaifosh, the former of which spent nine years at Microsoft prior to CTRL-labs.
Facebook has detailed its efforts in brain computing before. Back in July, the company provided an update on its “hands-free communication without saying a word” technology. Research suggests, however, that this sort of technoloyg is still years away from commercial availability.