Snap buys NextMind and doubles its bet on augmented reality

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Imagine a future where you use augmented reality glasses that are controlled by the mind. You don’t need a smartphone or peripherals to interact with them or choose the information you want to see, just your thoughts. The arrival of this type of device could become a reality thanks to the advances of companies such as Snap, which develops AR products, and NextMind, which works with brain-computer interfaces. The novelty is that the first has bought the second and the agreement seems promising.

Snap, the American company behind the Snapchat social network and creator of augmented reality solutions, has announced the purchase of the Paris-based neurotechnology company, NextMind to boost its research efforts in the field of AR and help users developers to overcome certain technical limitations present today. The idea is that NextMind technology is incorporated into future generations of Spectacles eyewearand some of the company’s other products, like Snap Camera.

An agreement that promises

NextMind is a relatively young company. It was founded in 2017 by a team of neuroscientists and hardware engineers. In 2018, it raised 4.6 million dollars in a financing round that allowed it to start developing its first projects. One of its fruits is a headband with patented EEG electrodes that turns into a brain-computer interface that decodes neural activity in real time and provides the ability to control virtual devices or objects with just your mind.

“This technology that records neural activity to understand your intention when interacting with a computer interface, allowing you to press a virtual button simply by focusing on it,” they explain from the company. It is a technology that does not “read” thoughts or send signals to the brain, but acts as an alternative to conventional input devices, although using thoughts as the axis is something tremendously new and promising.

After the recent purchase, NextMind will become part of Snap Labs, but its 20 employees will continue to work in France. Their goal will be to focus, as they have been doing, on research and long-term product development. In fact, the headband with the brain-computer interface is a $399 kit that has very limited availability as it is intended exclusively for developers. The firm describes it as an “evolving, iterative development” project.

Differences between augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality

Augmented reality—and virtual reality, too—seems destined to come to dedicated devices. Meta, with its Oculus 2 headset, and Apple, with its rumored glasses, are working on it. Among these big players betting on this future is Snap, which in recent years has acquired component suppliers for AR WaveOptics and Compound Photonics to strengthen the hardware team, so in the next few years it could surprise us.

In this scenario, we must not forget Neuralink, Elon Musk’s most recent and ambitious project. A little over a year ago we saw how a brain implant allowed a monkey to play pong with its mind and, although the company admitted such tests had led to serious damage to animals -some of them even died-, clinical trials in humans They seem to be on their way.

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Imagine a future where you use augmented reality glasses that are controlled by the mind. You don’t need a smartphone…

Imagine a future where you use augmented reality glasses that are controlled by the mind. You don’t need a smartphone…

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