Facebook has announced that it will buy CTRL-Labs, a New York startup focused on brain-machine interfaces, that is, allowing humans to control computers and other devices through thinking, and if necessary, using a bracelet placed on the wrist.
According to CNBC, the figures for the operation have been between 500 and 1,000 million dollars, and according to a Facebook spokesperson, the deal has been reached below 1,000 million.
Andrew Bosworth, Vice President of Virtual and Augmented Reality on Facebook, has echoed the purchase in a statement on the social network:
We spend a lot of time trying to get our technology to do what we want instead of enjoying the people around us. We know that there are more natural and intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology. And we want to build them. That is why we have agreed to acquire CTRL-Labs. They will join our Facebook Reality Labs team where we hope to build this type of technology, to scale, and turn it into faster consumer products.
The vision of this work is a bracelet that allows people to control their devices as a natural extension of the movement. This is how it will work: you have neurons in the spinal cord that send electrical signals to the muscles of the hand telling them to move in specific ways, such as clicking a mouse or pressing a button. The bracelet will decode those signals and translate them into a digital signal that your device can understand, allowing you to have control over your digital life. Capture your intention so you can share a photo with a friend using an imperceptible movement or simply, well, with the intention of doing so.
Technology like this has the potential to open new creative possibilities and reimagine the inventions of the nineteenth century in a world of the twenty-first century. This is what our interactions will look like in virtual reality and augmented reality someday. You can change the way we connect.
This is the largest purchase of Facebook in recent years, after acquiring Oculus in 2014, a company whose products it wants to boost Facebook with this purchase as extra from Bosworth’s message. At a time when virtual or augmented reality are declining interest after the explosion of three or four years ago, Facebook shows that it is still working to strengthen it, although there may be interests in other directions.
CTRL-Labs technology fits into other Facebook plans
During the F8 of 2017, Facebook announced that it was working on us to write with the mind and listen with the skin to, for example, reach 100 words per minute without typing. This, for example, would mean writing five times faster than a smartphone. For people like Nita Farahany, a professor at Duke University and specializing in neuroethics, advances such as these mean that we are about to cross the last border of privacy in the absence of any protection.
There will be time to see how CRTL-Labs complements or adds capabilities to the old Building 8 project, now framed in the Reality Labs, but wrist technology is very promising to control, for example, the two models of augmented reality glasses that are has leaked that Facebook is developing along with Ray-Ban.
Returning to CTRL-Labs, it is interesting that Thomas Reardon is among his team of founders, who started the Internet Explorer development project and was up to version four. For example, he implemented the first version of CSS in Internet Explorer 3, and his idea was to launch the browser with Windows. He was also a founding member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). He is a neuroscientist, and confused CRTL-Labs in 2015 with Patrick Kaifosh.