Snap acquires brain-computer interface start-up NextMind

Paris-based start-up NextMind will become part of Snap’s augmented reality research efforts following an acquisition from the company behind Snapchat.

NextMind’s team of about 20 will continue to operate out of Paris but will now be part of long-term research from Snap Lab, the California-headquartered company’s hardware R&D team.

Snap Lab’s primary focus is Snap’s augmented reality (AR) platform, which includes Spectacles as well as the well-known Snap Camera technology and its transformational filters.

Since 2017, NextMind has been developing non-invasive brain-computer interface technology for hands-free interaction with devices such as computers and augmented and virtual reality headsets. Its first product, released two years ago, is a headband developer kit used to monitor neural activity and enable users to ‘push’ virtual buttons or select and manipulate virtual objects by focusing on them.

According to The Verge, this headband will be discontinued following the acquisition.

“We’re looking forward to working with NextMind to overlay computing on the world and improve the way that technology can serve humanity,” said Snap in a statement.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but PitchBook valued NextMind at about $13m. The company raised $4.6m in funding in 2018, which included a $1m innovation award from BPIFrance.

The development of the technology also benefitted from early funding through academic research grants supporting the Brain and Consciousness Lab at École Normale Supérieur, where the company was formed.

NextMind CEO Sid Kouider is a professor of neuroscience and served as director of the lab up to 2020.

In all, the NextMind team combines many decades of experience in neuroscience research with a number of peer-reviewed publications between then.

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Unity Technologies co-founder and former CEO David Helgason is also an investor.

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