It’s a Paris-based company that creates a $400 pint-sized BCI.
Driving AR Research Efforts
Snap acquired Next Mind. It’s a company based in Paris that creates a $400 pint-sized brain-computer interface (BCI).
In a blog post, Snap stated:
“We’re excited to share that Snap has acquired NextMind, a Paris-based neurotech company. NextMind has joined Snap to help drive long-term augmented reality research efforts within Snap Lab. The team will continue to operate out of Paris.”Snap
Snap Lab’s programs probe all possibilities of its Snap Camera. It includes Spectacles.
The company said that Spectacles are an evolving project and the latest generation of Spectacles are designed to support developers while they discover the technical aspects of AR.
Snap didn’t disclose the terms or price of the acquisition. However, it did reveal that NextMind’s team will continue to operate in Paris. However, the startup will stop producing its BCI.
Hand and Eye-Tracking Hardware
Compared to many years ago, hand and eye-tracking hardware have become accurate and more reliable today. However, companies in this space have not solved the issues related to input methods for AR headsets.
Although NextMind’s tech can produce a brain-computer interface, its tech may not be the complete solution.
On the other hand, its BCI is non-invasive. It’s also thin enough so it can be easily integrated into the strap of Snap’s XR headset. Creators of Valve, for instance, have been interested in this type of headset for many years.
Valve’s president talked about it at GDC 2019. He envisioned a future where VR/AR headsets are integrated into non-invasive electroencephalogram (EG) devices. These devices could provide data to game designers to create a new negation of more reactive games.
If there’s connective tissue, and a scalp that can read through, NextMind’ tech might still be far from the read/write capabilities that Neuralink aims for through its invasive brain implant.
This isn’t the first company that Snap has acquired. It has been buying companies to assist them in creating its next pair of AR glasses.
Last year, Snap announced that it has acquired WaveOptics for more than $500 million. WaveOptics is a startup that creates AR optics in the Spectacles. Currently, it’s working under Snap’s hardware division. WaveOptics makes micro projectors and full AR modules. This tech can be found in various AR headsets, like the Project Aurora headset. It also showed off prescription waveguide lenses.
In January, Snap also bought Compound Photonics, an LCOS maker. The company was founded in 2007 and it bought the assets of LCOS maker.
Snap released its fourth generation Spectacles. They included displays for real-time augmented reality, on top of integrating voice recognition. It also includes optical hand dancing, as well as a touchpad for UI selection.
As mentioned, Snap isn’t the only tech player interested in BCI. Elon Musk’s Neuralink is gearing up for clinical trials. Valve is working with OPenBCI, an open-source brain interface project. Meta also bought a startup that developed an armband to measure electrical activity in muscles.