FACEBOOK HAS FOUND a spare billion dollars down the back of the sofa and gone shopping for its biggest purchase since bagging Oculus Rift in 2014.
This time, it's the neural interface startup CTRL-Labs, a company which makes a wristband to transfer thoughts into computer actions… so maybe avoid your racist uncle's Facebook page if you don't want to cause a family incident.
Fortunately, the technology is a long way off being able to cause a diplomatic incident like that. The band picks up on electrical impulses from the muscle fibres, and the computer than interprets this with movements on the screen. Basically, rather than clicking your mouse, you just need to think about clicking it.
"It captures your intention so you can share a photo with a friend using an imperceptible movement or just by, well, intending to," wrote Facebook's Andrew Bosworth on his wall, announcing the new acquisition. It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "it's the thought that counts".
Of course, Bosworth is head of AR and VR, and that's where most people think the technology will really make a difference, appealing as it is to add an angry emoji to someone's post just by thinking about it.
"Technology like this has the potential to open up new creative possibilities and reimagine 19th century inventions in a 21st century world," Bosworth continued. "This is how our interactions in VR and AR can one day look. It can change the way we connect."
Huge potential or not, the "can" in that sentence is certainly doing a lot of heavy lifting, and while Facebook has had great success with its core free products, thus far actually selling hardware has proven tough. Oculus is doing okay, but VR sales generally still aren't exactly stellar, while the only people leaving rave reviews for Facebook Portal seem to share the names of company employees.
A product that reads thoughts from a company that already knows too much about its users could be the toughest sell yet. µ
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