Snap inc is acquiring BCI company NextMind for future AR glasses, The Verge’s Alex Heath reports.
A major challenge in shipping consumer AR glasses is the lack of an obvious appropriate input method. A VR controller would not be practical for glasses you want to use out of your home. And while voice recognition is now a mature technology, few would want to dictate potentially private text out loud in front of strangers.
A brain computer interface (BCI) could one day allow users to control their glasses, and even type words and sentences, by just thinking.
NextMind is a French startup which released a a $400 developer kit two years ago, a headband for brain input. Its competitors include Neurosity.
This isn’t Snap’s first core tech acquisition for its AR glasses ambitions. In May it acquired WaveOptics, its supplier of the transparent optical waveguides and accompanying projectors in the Spectacles developer kit.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta began its own BCI research project in 2017, with the stated goal of “a system capable of typing 100 words-per-minute straight from your brain”. But in July 2021 the company announced it was cancelling this project to work on wrist-mounted devices to read signals passing from the brain to the hands instead.
A Snap spokesperson apparently told The Verge the NextMind acquisition is a long-term research bet, with no specific technology yet intended to ship in products.