Facebook just acquired mind control interface startup CTRL-labs for a sum that may have approached a billion dollars, according to Bloomberg.
The startup was developing a special bracelet that allowed users to control virtual avatars with brain activity alone — a new category of input device that doesn’t rely on a keyboard or mouse. Bloomberg suggested that Facebook may one day pair the tech with either augmented or virtual reality glasses.
Facebook has been working on its own brain-computer interface for a number of years now. First announced at its F8 conference in 2017, the non-invasive wearable device is meant to one day allow users to type by simply imagining themselves talking.
But CTRL-lab’s bracelet isn’t quite as ambitious as that. It technically isn’t able to read your thoughts — it rather detects tiny electrical impulses from muscle fibers in, say, your arm, and translates those signals into movement on a screen.
The acquisition sheds light on the substantial difficulties in developing a brain-signal reading device that doesn’t require invasive surgery.
It also comes at an interesting regulatory moment. Attorneys general in a number of U.S. states announced earlier this month that they are opening antitrust investigations into Facebook — something that is bound to keep acquisitions like this one under critical observation.
READ MORE: Facebook acquires neural monitoring startup CTRL-labs [Engadget]
More on Facebook’s brain-computer interface: Zuckerberg: Facebook is Building a Machine to Read Your Thoughts