Facebook Acquires CTRL-Labs to Increase Its Efforts on Building Brain-Computing Technology


Facebook’s efforts on building brain computing tech are about to get into high gear following the reportedly $1 billion acquisition of CTRL-Labs, a startup based in New York that focuses on converting user movements into digital input signals and thus allows humans to control computers using their brains. This is something Facebook has had a keen interest in and hopes that in the future will make things like text entry possible just by thinking.

There’s a lot of neuroscience involved and CTRL-Labs makes for a perfect acquisition as both founders of the company(Thomas Reardon and Patrick Kaifosh) have PHDs in neuroscience from Columbia University. Thomas Reardon has also had experience working in tech as he has nine years under his belt working at Microsoft where he founded the team that built Internet Explorer and was also a technology chief at Openwave Systems.

Alphabet’s GV, Amazon Alexa Fund, Lux Capital, Spark Capital and Founders Fund are among its investors. The company recently raised $67 million.

CTRL-Labs has been working on a device that translates neural impulses to digital signals.

Speaking about the acquisition that is yet to be completed, Andrew Bosworth, Facebook VP in charge of AR/VR said in a Facebook post that his company wants to build more natural and intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology. CTRL-Labs will be joining Facebook’s Reality Labs to build this technology at scale and quickly ship products to consumers.

“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. 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,” the post continues.

There’s a lot of potential with this tech: from hands-free AR glasses to VR gaming and give Facebook an upper hand as rivals like Apple and Microsoft catch up.

It expected that more updates about this acquisition among other AR/VR developments could be made during Facebook’s upcoming Oculus Connect 6 developer conference happening later this week.

This acquisition has been welcomed with mixed reactions

Keep up with all things Facebook here.

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George Kamau
I brunch on consumer tech | first.last at techweez dot com