Facebook to buy tech start-up working on mind control technology
TECH giant Facebook announced it has made a deal with a start-up company working on technology that will allow users to make computer commands using their mind instead of more traditional methods like taps and keystrokes.
CTRL-Labs will become part of Facebook Reality Labs with an aim of perfecting the technology and building it into consumer products, according to Andrew Bosworth, vice president of augmented reality and virtual reality at the social media company.
“We spend a lot of time trying to get our technology to do what we want rather than enjoying the people around us. We know there are more natural, intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology,” he said in a post online.
Bosworth explained that the wristband will decode electrical impulses such as those sent to hand muscles telling them to move certain ways, such as clicking a computer mouse or pressing a button.
“The vision for this work is a wristband that lets people control their devices as a natural extension of movement. Here’s how it’ll work: You have neurons in your spinal cord that send electrical signals to your hand muscles telling them to move in specific ways such as to click a mouse or press a button.
“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. It captures your intention so you can share a photo with a friend using an imperceptible movement or just by, well, intending to.”He spoke of how thought-commanded interactions might dramatically alter how people experience augmented or virtual reality scenarios, which currently feature hand-held controls.
Facebook did not disclose financial terms of the deal to buy the New York-based CTRL-labs, but unconfirmed media reports said it paid more than $500 million.After Facebook bought virtual-reality gear startup Oculus in early 2014 in a deal valued at $2 billion, its chief Mark Zuckerberg heralded the technology as the next major computing platform.Oculus has since built a line of virtual reality gear, pushing down the price and eliminating the need to be plugged in to a computer with its Quest VR headset.
In Early 2017, Facebook announced projects aimed at allowing users to use their minds to type messages or their skin to hear words.The projects were the focus of a team of scientists, engineers, and system integrators with a goal of “creating a system capable of typing 100 words-per-minute straight from your brain,” Facebook said at the time.
Such brain-computer interface technology currently involves implanting electrodes, but Facebook wanted to use sensors that could be worn to eliminate the need to surgically intrude on the brain.Such technology could for example let people fire off text messages or emails by thinking, instead of needing to interrupt what they are doing to use smartphone touchscreen.