Facebook has been making great strides in virtual and augmented reality, and it has now taken another step. The company is acquiring CTRL-labs a startup which focuses on technology that allows people to control devices using only their brains. Apparently, the plan for the acquisition is to create a Facebook wristband designed to interpret signals sent by the brain to the wrist.
Facebook wristband in the works
Facebook VP of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth posted about the acquisition of CTRL-labs on Facebook. The startup will become part of Facebook Reality Labs, the division that’s working on augmented-reality smart glasses.
“We spend a lot of time trying to get our technology to do what we want rather than enjoying the people around us,” he wrote. “We know there are more natural, intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology. And we want to build them.”
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He also explained what their plans are for the startup’s technology. They want to create a Facebook “wristband that lets people control their devices as a natural extension of movement.” He added that the wristband will decode the signals sent along your spinal cord to your hand muscles telling them to do something or move in a particular way. It will then “decode those signals and translate them into a digital signal your device can understand.”
Bloomberg reported last week that the deal was worth between $500 million and $1 billion, citing unnamed sources familiar with it. A spokesperson for Facebook told CNBC that the deal was worth less than $1 billion.
Uses for brain scanning tech
The Facebook wristband could become an integral part of products like the AR smart glasses the company has been working on. According to Bloomberg, CTRL-labs CEO Thomas Reardon said last year during an industry conference that in the case of AR glasses, users will want to control them without having to use buttons or a keyboard. He said the device could operate off the intention of moving rather than an actual movement.
This also isn’t the first time Facebook has been working on technology along these same lines. According to CNBC, the social media company has been developing brain-computing tech since 2016 in its Building 8 division, a lab aimed at work on consumer hardware. However, Facebook said in July that its work is still years from being able to be commercialized, although its research with the University of California San Francisco has been promising.