Currently if gamers want to interact with virtual worlds options are fairly limited. There are motion controllers or standard gamepads available, or for certain titles steering wheels and flight sticks are also an option. But companies are working on various other means of providing immersive input, from data gloves all the way to mind controlled interfaces. Its the latter that Neurable, a developer of brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, has been working on, and recently its completed a seed funding round securing $2 million USD.
The funding round was led by Brian Shin through Accomplice’s Boston Syndicate with participation from Point Judith Capital, Loup Ventures, the Kraft Group, NXT Ventures, and prominent angel investors. Neurable’s BCI technology claims to enable real-time control of software and connected devices by interpreting intent based on users’ brain activity. The company is currently in the process of developing a software development kit (SDK) for integration of its technology with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) content and headsets.
“Our goal is to build a new platform for human-computer interaction,” said Ramses Alcaide, co-founder and CEO of Neurable. “Our investors share our vision for the broad potential of our technology and for creating a world without limitations. We appreciate their confidence.”
“The team at Neurable believe that they can enable people to easily control devices and objects with their minds. The implications would be enormous,” said Brian Shin, who led the Boston Syndicate investment in Neurable. “They have a chance to completely alter the way humans interact with technology which is something that I had to be a part of.”
BCI technology offers a powerful new method for interaction in AR/VR applications, allowing a hands-free method for control while avoiding the limitations of other technologies such as eye-tracking or voice commands. Users can control menus and options in AR displays, or create magic and cast spells in VR games, just by thinking about it. Neurable’s tech uses a non-invasive dry-electrode sensors to record brain activity. It is also wireless, so it does not impair users’ movement.
Alcaide invented Neurable’s core technology while working on his PhD under Dr. Jane Huggins, at the University of Michigan’s Direct Brain Interface Laboratory. Neurable performs complex data analyses using novel machine learning approaches, which provide significant advantages in speed and accuracy when determining user intent. A preliminary version of Alcaide and Huggins’ work was published in the November 2014 Journal of Neural Engineering.
“Neurable’s technology embodies a breakthrough in BCI function initially developed at the University of Michigan Direct Brain Interface laboratory,” said Huggins, “and introduces a new generation of BCI capabilities.”
Neurable plans to license its SDK to manufacturers of AR/VR headsets and released to select developers in the second half of 2017. The SDK is platform agnostic and compatible with head-mounted displays (HMDs), including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and the Microsoft HoloLens. While the Neurable SDK includes plugin support for popular game engines such as Unity and Unreal.
As Neurable continues development, VRFocus will bring you the latest updates.