A neural interface startup that’s hard at work on a bracelet you can use to control computers with your thoughts is the latest Facebook acquisition. Bloomberg just reported that Facebook acquired four-year old CTRL-labs for somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion. The social media giant intent to pair the technology with VR or AR glasses and other wearables.
The moonshot project underscores the world’s largest social network’s efforts to transform how we communicate with one another. Facebook first said in 2017 that it was working on a computer-brain interface that would let users type words and send messages using only their brains. The company envisioned building a wearable device, rather than a system that requires surgery.
Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth, who serves as vice-president of the company’s augmented reality and virtual reality divisions, announced the acquisition in a post on the social network.
“We spend a lot of time trying to get our technology to do what we want rather than enjoying the people around us,” Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president of augmented and virtual reality, said in a Facebook post. “We know there are more natural intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology.”
The device made by CTRL-labs doesn’t really read minds or detect neural impulses. Instead, it picks up on electrical impulses that come from muscle fibers as they move, similar to an EMG wristband. The computer then imitates the movement on the screen. The company claims it has advanced this capability to individual muscle cells.
In other words, you won’t have to physically move your arm to move the arm on the screen. You’ll only have to think about physically moving your arm.