Snap wants you to control AR with your brain
Future. Snap plans to give users the ability to mind control! Okay, maybe not to become X-Men, but Snap’s recent acquisition of NextMind hopes to develop tech for the company’s upcoming Spectacles that would allow users to interact with augmented reality overlays just with their brain. If successful, it could become the clearest test case for mainstream adoption of AR — it doesn’t get any more user-friendly than just thinking.
Snap plans to turn your brain into an AR operating system.
- The self-proclaimed camera company is acquiring NextMind, a startup that develops brain-computer interfaces, for an undisclosed amount.
- The Paris-based company will be integrated into Snap Labs (the division that makes Spectacles).
- The team will reportedly work on technology that will allow users to interact with the virtual overlay from Snap’s augmented reality devices by simply using their mind — no buttons, touchscreens, or extra gear necessary.
Snap’s NextMind acquisition is just the latest in the company’s spending spree for AR tech, recently buying display companies WaveOptics and Compound Photonics… all of which will surely power Snap’s coming 4th-generation Spectacles that it teased to developers last year.
So, how the heck does NextMind’s tech actually work? Its current product looks like a simple, noninvasive (no chips in skulls, thank you very much) headband that, when worn, interfaces with the wearer’s thoughts (electric signals if you want to be fancy) to execute commands. CEO Sid Kouider explained it as the device picking up on a user’s “intention” to do something.
No surprise, every company with AR ambitions is trying to help people get comfortable using AR devices and make it easier to actually interact with the overlaid digital world. Elon Musk’s Neuralink is going the “implant a device in your brain” route, while Meta acquired CTRL-Labs — a startup working on an armband that will allow people to control computers with a flick of their wrist, sans keyboard.