Social media giant Facebook has agreed to acquire New York neural interface startup CTRL-Labs for up to a reported $1 billion. The company develops software allowing users to control computer devices with their brain.
Facebook is seeking “more natural, intuitive ways” to work with different devices and wants to build “this kind of technology at scale,” the company’s vice-president of augmented reality and virtual reality divisions, Andrew Bosworth, said in a post on Monday announcing the acquisition. CTRL-Labs will join the company’s Reality Labs team, a division formerly known as Oculus Research, which focuses on AR and VR technology.
While the financial terms of the deal have not been revealed, media reports claim that the tech startup cost the social media giant between $500 million and $1 billion, which could make it one of Facebook’s most substantial acquisitions in the last 5 years.
In his post, Bosworth mentioned CTRL-Labs’ flagship product – a wristband that measures neuron activity to transmit it into computer input. However, the device does not exactly read your mind, it decodes electrical impulses that come from muscle fibers as they move and translates them into a digital signal your device can understand.
“Technology like this has the potential to open up new creative possibilities and reimagine 19th century inventions in a 21st century world,” the vice-president said. “This is how our interactions in VR and AR can one day look. It can change the way we connect.”
CTRL-Labs was founded in 2015 by Thomas Reardon and Patrick Kaifosh, both PhDs in neuroscience. Reardon told Forbes that he considered the bracelet a “universal controller for all your interactions with technology.” In February, the startup drew interest from other tech giants, as it raised $28 million from Alphabet GV and Amazon Alexa Fund.