April 15, 2021

Facebook to buy $1B startup for controlling computers with your mind

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From Newsmax

15 September 2019, Berlin: The Facebook logo on the jumped display of a smartphone indicates the number of unread notifications with the number 100. The apps of the settings, Slack, Trilian, Gmail, Apple Store, Maps, Google Maps and Instagram are grouped around it. Photo by: Soeren Stache/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Facebook Inc. said on Monday it bought New York-based CTRL-labs, a start-up that is exploring ways for people to communicate with computers using brain signals, in a deal that CNBC said was valued at $1 billion.

Facebook Vice President of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth announced the deal in a Facebook post.

CTRL-labs will join Facebook Reality Labs team, Bosworth said, without giving any financial details.

Facebook (FB) said it intends to use the neural interface technology of CTRL-labs in developing a wristband that connects to other devices intuitively.

“The vision for this work is a wristband that lets people control their devices as a natural extension of movement,” Bosworth said.

“We hope to build this kind of technology, at scale, and get it into consumer products faster,” he added.

Media reports said CTRL-labs is working with brain science and machine learning to create interfaces for people to control and manipulate computers by thinking. Its development-stage wrist-worn device uses sensors to track gestures and would act as an input device.

The deal is valued at about $1 billion, CNBC reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Facebook was not immediately available for comment on the deal value.

Technology like CTRL-Labs’s may someday be a crucial part of products like augmented reality glasses, where a user might want to control a computer without the need for buttons or a keyboard. “Your hands could be in your pocket, behind you,” explained Thomas Reardon, chief executive officer of CTRL-Labs, at an industry conference last December. “It’s the intention [to move], not the movement” itself that controls the avatar, he said.

Facebook has been pushing deeper into augmented reality technology, including the development of a hands-free pair of AR glasses. In 2017, it announced a “brain-computer interface” that could someday let people turn their thoughts into actual text on a screen by monitoring signals in the brain. The CTRL-Labs technology is attempting to solve a similar problem.

“The wristband will decode those [neural] signals and translate them into a digital signal your device can understand,” wrote Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s head of AR and virtual reality, in a post announcing the deal. “It captures your intention so you can share a photo with a friend using an imperceptible movement or just by, well, intending to.”

The purchase comes at a challenging time for Facebook, which is under two separate U.S. antitrust investigations. The inquiries mean any acquisition the company makes will be under intense scrutiny from regulators as they question whether Facebook is already too big and powerful.

“CTRL-Labs and Facebook are not competitors. Facebook does not currently have or make this technology,” a Facebook spokeswoman said of the deal announced on Monday, adding that the company will work with regulators to secure any needed approvals. “CTRL-Labs’s technology is an innovative input that Facebook hopes will be used to significantly improve the upcoming Facebook AR/VR experiences a few years down the road to fundamentally improve the user experience.”

New York-based CTRL-Labs has raised $67 million, according to Crunchbase, and has a high-profile list of investors, including Spark Capital, Google’s GV, Amazon.com Inc.’s Alexa Fund, and Founders Fund. CTRL-Labs employees will join Facebook’s Reality Labs team, which works on AR and VR products.

Material from Bloomberg and Reuters was used in this story.

© 2019 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.

For more on this story go to; https://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/facebook-mindcontrol-computer-ctrl/2019/09/23/id/933930/?ns_mail_uid=6952f1f9-507d-4a20-8cc0-0a1db158d76e&ns_mail_job=DM54886_09242019&s=acs&dkt_nbr=010504czrfa8

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