Snap bets on AR devices you can control with your brain

The company acquired NextMind, a Paris startup specializing in brain-computer interfaces, to reportedly work on future AR hardware.

Snap is acquiring NextMind, a Paris-based startup that specializes in brain-computer interfaces, the company announced Wednesday.

The team is joining Snap Labs, the division of the Snapchat-maker that built Spectacles, with the hopes of integrating its tech into future augmented reality devices, The Verge reports. Snap has not disclosed how much it’s paying for NextMind.

Mind control — NextMind’s basic product is a headband that when worn, allows the user to control computer interfaces with just their thoughts. It’s a non-invasive EEG (electroencephalogram) device that interprets electrical signals from the brain and translates them into inputs like adjusting sliders in a music app or firing off a shot in a video game.

For future AR glasses — where ideally everything is contained in a single, small device you wear — NextMind’s neurotech could allow you to interact with the information being overlayed on your vision without a touchscreen, buttons, or an extra controller. A big step up from other controller-enabled AR headsets like the Magic Leap 1.

As part of the acquisition, NextMind’s headband will be discontinued so the team can focus on Snap Labs’ ongoing projects, and they’ll remain in France, The Verge writes.

Snap’s developer-only next-generation Spectacles with AR.Snap

AR Spectacles — Snap’s AR tech is still in the early stages based on the developer hardware it showed off last year, but that could quickly change. The company acquired AR display manufacturer WaveOptics in 2021 and reportedly bought another display company, Compound Photonics, earlier this year.

We might not see the end result of all of Snap’s acquisitions for a while yet, but it’s clear the company sees AR as just as much of an exciting future direction to move into as Meta and Apple. The question is whether customers will feel the same way.