Facebook acquires mind-reading startup CTRL-Labs: Mind-control wristband on cards?


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A few days back, on September 23, 2019, the social media giant Facebook announced the acquisition of CTRL-labs, a startup based out of New York that makes wristbands capable of reading minds.

As per the deal, Facebook has spent somewhere around $1 billion to buy the four-year-old company founded by Thomas Reardon, the creator of Internet Explorer, and Patrick Kaifosh, a neuroscientist.

This is Facebook’s second-biggest acquisition so far in its history, the first being the acquisition of VR company Oculus for $2 billion in 2014.

Mind control isn’t science fiction anymore!

CTRL-labs is pioneering the development of non-invasive neural interface technology that fundamentally rediscovers how humans and machines interact.

In other words, the company is developing technology that will guide the computer with the help of brain signals without any physical interaction. The company has so far raised around €60.9M.

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Will join Facebook Reality Labs?

Interestingly, the New York-based startup is working on machine learning and brain science intending to develop interfaces for people to control and manage digital gadgets just by thinking.

Post this acquisition, the company will work with Facebook Reality Labs, a division of the that is working to develop augmented-reality smart glasses.

How does the wristband works?

CTRL-labs has designed a wristband that lets people control their devices as a natural extension of the movement. It works by measuring the neuron activity in the brain and imitates the same motion on the computer screen.

In simple terms, 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.

This device is capable of acquiring signals from the brain and electrical impulses that come from muscle cells. It is much less sinister than we thought and doesn’t read minds. Facebook cannot spy on a person’s thoughts through the wristband so that you can relax!

Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, the head of AR and VR at Facebook, said: 

We know there are more natural, intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology. And we want to build them. It’s why we’ve agreed to acquire CTRL-labs. 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.

Building 8 initiative

It’s worth mentioning that Facebook announced its plan to build a brain-computer interface in 2017 through the company’s Building 8 division, which was launched to boost the company’s efforts in developing consumer hardware products.

Facebook is not alone, though!

Last month, Elon Musk showed off its new venture called Neuralink, a company specialising in brain-computer interface (BCI). The company aims to implant devices in paralyzed humans, allowing them to control phones or computers. Additionally, there are other startups working on such neuroscience applications, including Flow Neuroscience, BitBrain Technologies, NextMind, BIOS, and much more.

Main image credits: CTRL-Labs

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