Snap's neural tech acquisition could solve a huge problem with AR

Snap has added another company to its acquisition list as it continues its investment into AR technology. On Wednesday, the company announced that it has acquired NextMind, a Paris-based neurotech company.

NextMind develops headbands that let the wearer interact with an on-screen interface using thoughts — sort of. The technology works by monitoring "neural activity to understand your intent," Snap said.

Snap's neural tech acquisition could solve a huge problem with AR

The startup will help Snap in its "long-term augmented reality research efforts," the company said, with its tech working to solve a problem that many companies face developing mixed-reality headsets: how to control technology without using your hands to touch a screen or keyboard. NextMind sold kits to develop these headbands, which retail for $399, but will discontinue them, according to The Verge.

"This technology does not 'read' thoughts or send any signals towards the brain," Snap said in its announcement.

NextMind's team of 20 employees will join Snap Labs and continue to operate out of Paris. The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed, but the company has $4.6 million in funding, according to Crunchbase.

NextMind's tech could eventually become part of Snap's Spectacles, a pair of video-recording augmented reality glasses first launched in 2016. The acquisition isn't Snap's first in the AR space: The company bought WaveOptics, which supplies the Spectacles' AR displays, last May for $500 million. In January, it acquired Compound Photonics, a company that makes display tech, for an unknown amount.

Snap has long been working on augmented reality, but is now competing with other tech major companies as hype around the metaverse grows. Meta, which at one point wanted to acquire Snap, is one major competitor. The company has committed its resources to metaverse technologies, though its first glasses, a pair of video-recording Ray-Bans called Stories, failed to impress.