Facebook will acquire neural interface software firm CTRL-Labs

24 Sep 2019216 Views

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Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, California. Image: dnewman8/Depositphotos

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Facebook is acquiring a neural monitoring start-up, in a deal that could be worth up to $1bn.

Today (24 September), it emerged that Facebook has agreed to acquire CTRL-Labs, a start-up that is developing technology to let people control computers with their minds.

CTRL-Labs, which was founded four years ago, has raised around $67m to date from investors including Matrix Partners Capital, GV and Lux Capital. Facebook’s deal with the start-up is estimated to be worth between $500m and $1bn, according to Bloomberg.

The start-up will join Facebook Reality Labs, the division of the tech giant that is currently working on smart glasses using augmented reality (AR).

Facebook’s vice-president of AR and VR, Andrew Bosworth, 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. They will be joining our Facebook Reality Labs team where we hope to build this kind of technology at scale and get it into consumer products faster.”

CTRL-Labs

The start-up has developed a product called CTRL-Kit, which is a “non-invasive neural interface platform that lets developers reimagine the relationship between humans and machines with new, intuitive control schemes”. This device comes in the form of a wristband.

The founders of the start-up, Thomas Reardon and Patrick Kaifosh, both hold PhDs in neuroscience from Columbia University. Reardon previously spent nine years working with Microsoft and also served as CTO at Openwave Systems.

CTRL-Labs tweeted: “Today we’re thrilled to share that Facebook has agreed to acquire CTRL-Labs. Our team is excited to join [Andrew Bosworth] and his group Facebook Reality Labs to empower people with non-invasive neural interfaces at scale.”

Along with acquiring CTRL-Labs, Facebook will also acquire armband patents developed by North (formerly Thalmic Labs), which the start-up purchased earlier this year for an undisclosed sum.

Later this week, Facebook will hold its Oculus Connect 6 developer conference. The company will deliver further updates on its AR and VR efforts to date, and plans for the future.

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com