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Snap buys mind-controlled headband maker, NextMind – TechCrunch

snap this morning confirmed to have acquired NextMind for an undisclosed sum. The Paris-based startup is best known for its eponymous controller, which uses brain signals to move images around a PC interface. After announcing a $399 dev kit at CES, the company began shipping in Q2 2020. We tried it out late that year and called the hardware a “rare ‘wow’ factor.”

“NextMind has joined Snap to help lead long-term augmented reality research efforts within Snap Lab,” the company wrote in a blog post. “The glasses are an evolving and iterative research and development project, and the latest generation is designed to help developers explore the technical limits of augmented reality. »

The news reveals that the company is integrating with Snap Lab, the hardware research wing of the social media company. This also marks the end of NextMind’s SDK as a standalone tool. Elements of the technology will almost certainly make their way into future Snap products, including AR games like Camera and Spectacles.

Founded in 2017 by a team of neuroscientists and hardware engineers, the company’s technology uses a wearable headband with an integrated electroencephalogram to detect and read neural activity in the cortex. When the wearer views an image on a screen, the helmet can determine that he wishes to move it. Mind-controlled interfaces like this make a lot of sense for augmented reality. Head-mounted displays, in particular, have long suffered from a controller problem, which these technologies could help solve.

“This technology monitors neural activity to understand your intention when interacting with a computer interface, allowing you to press a virtual button simply by focusing on it,” Snap adds. “This technology does not ‘read’ thoughts or send signals to the brain.”

NextMind raised a $4.6 million seed round in mid-2018. The team will continue to work from Paris, with 20 of its (largely technical) employees joining Snap Labs, and focusing on longer-term research and development. Last May, Snap purchased WaveOptics, which manufactures components used in AR headsets. That same month, the company preview her fourth-generation Spectacles, which she called “the first pair of glasses that brings augmented reality to life.”