Facebook acquires CTRL-labs

Andrew Bosworth, the Vice President of Facebook’s augmented reality and virtual reality division, has spilled beans about that the company’s ongoing acquisition of CTRL-labs – a New York-based startup specializing in brain control technology – in a post on Monday.

Some sources reported to CNBC that the acquisition amounts to an approximate sum between $500 million and $1 billion. But according to a Facebook spokesperson, the deal’s value is lower than $1 billion. An official statement by either side, however, is yet to be made.

To put things into context, CTRL-labs was founded by Thomas Reardon and Patrick Kaifosh, two PhD qualified neuroscientists from Columbia University. The startup is best known for its CTRL-kit, a neural interface device that functions by translating neurological impulses into digital codes that can be understood by machines.

The startup will join Facebook’s augmented reality and virtual reality division, known as Reality Labs.

“We spend a lot of time trying to get our technology to do what we want rather than enjoying the people around us. The vision for this work is a wristband that lets people control their devices as a natural extension of movement”, Andrew Bosworth – VP of AR/VR at Facebook – said in his Facebook post.

At present, it is claimed that actions such as clicking a mouse or pressing a button can be achieved with this technology and the aim is to expand it in a manner that common digital actions such as making a call or accessing one’s inbox can be achieved through the device.

Potential plans to capitalize on gadgets and hardware

It is evident that Facebook is dedicated to the growth and it is safe to assume that the social media behemoth wants to keep its growth rate intact by capitalizing on gadgets.

In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus, a 3D gaming company, right after a prototype of the company’s virtual reality headset was released. This investment proved to be beneficial, as the sales of Oculus headsets have been steady since they’ve been made available to the market.

Facebook has also very recently partnered with Luxottica, the parent company of the famous eyewear brand Ray-Ban. The partnership’s goal is to develop Facebook’s very own augmented reality glasses.

Taking this into consideration, it seems that Facebook’s acquisition of CTRL-labs and partnership with Luxottica might be killing two birds with one stone. Both projects cover areas of expertise that might benefit the other.

Facebook has also been investing generously in research that will further contribute to improving their attempts at breaking into the hardware market.

Facebook’s Past failures

Even though Facebook’s venture into hardware seems more promising and streamlined than its past attempts, one can’t yet shirk the possibility of a possible failure.

The infamous Facebook phone bears one such testament. The product had an inconvenient interface with Facebook Home colouring every user’s experience. The phone’s price dropped from $99 to 99 cents much too soon after its arrival.

Another such failed attempt can be seen in the Division8 venture, Facebook’s prior stroke at neural interface technology. It aimed at increasing the company’s relevance in the hardware industry and had Regina Dugan from Google at its front.

Thus, if Facebook has learnt from its past failures and has worked out a way to smooth out the potential knots and wrinkles it is likely to encounter, we might be witnessing the beginning of another promising era for social media’s Goliath.

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