Social networking giant Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has acquired CTRL-labs, a New York startup that enables humans to control computers using their brains. The startup is developing an armband that translates movement and the wearer’s neural impulses into digital input signals.
During the Monday announcement, Facebook did not disclose the fee for acquisitions, but sources indicate that the amount ranges between $500 million and $1 billion.
The startup will now be part of Facebook Reality Labs. The division was established to set up an augmented reality smart glasses. CTRL-labs has been existence for the last four years, and it was founded by Thomas Reardon and Patrick Kaifosh.
Commenting on the deal, Facebook Vice President of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth noted that the CTLR-labs technology has the potential to open up new grounds and reimagine 19th-century inventions in the modern world.
Upon joining the market, CTLR-labs’ vision has been to create wristbands that allow people to control their devices. According to Bosworth, the technology ensures neurons in your spinal cord send electrical signals to your hand muscles, telling them to move in specific ways. The wristband will decode those signals and translate them into a digital signal your device can understand.
Note that the wristband by CTRL-labs does not read minds but instead, the device uses electrical impulses that come from muscle fibers as they move. This model is similar to an EMG wristband.
CTRL-labs had earlier raised $67 million in funding drawing investors like GV, Lux Capital, Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Spark Capital and Founders Fund, among others.
The acquisition of the startup goes in line with Facebook’s recent initiative to work on brain computing projects. Two years ago, the tech giant announced it was developing brain-computer interfaces to enable users to type using their minds. This technology is still in its infancy stage.
Facebook’s Commitment To Futuristic Technology
Facebook partnered with the University of California San Francisco to research on the brain computing program. The latest update which was provided in July 2019 revealed that there was promising progress in the field, but commercialization remained a long shot.
Facebook has on embarked on a renewed initiative that represents its commitment in this type of futuristic tech. The acquisition of CTRL-labs’ puts Facebook in direct competition with rivals like Microsoft and Apple.
Facebook will now add more IP and talent to face competitors who have continued to build out augmented reality products.