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The creator of Internet Explorer is making mind control a reality

Can this neurotech startup from the creator of Internet Explorer change the world? It’s raised $28 million from Lux Capital and GV to try.

Late last week, Lux Capital founder and managing director Josh Wolfe tweeted that, in a few days, he would announce an investment in one of the most exciting ventures he had ever seen.

“Dangerously: I saw the future in front of me [and] fell in love with it,” he wrote. “Tech so unique it’s indistinguishable from magic.”

Other VCs quickly responded, curious as to what groundbreaking technology had captivated Wolfe. Boost VC‘s Adam Draper asked whether it was something one might find in a “Stars Wars’’ movie, while Homebrew‘s Hunter Walk joked he’d send a backdated term sheet for the startup’s pre-Lux funding round.

On Tuesday, Wolfe and Lux made their big reveal with the announcement that they co-led a $28 million funding for CTRL-labs, a neurotechnology startup with a mission that indeed seems straight out of science fiction. Through a combination of sensors, signal detectors and machine learning, the company has built a system to connect users’ nervous systems directly with computers and other machines, allowing humans to send commands through the muscles in their arm via a small wristband.

“Imagine typing in free space without a keyboard, tapping two fingers to turn on Sonos, flicking a pinky to switch songs, making a tiny motion with your index finger to make the volume louder or softer. You don’t need a screen, a keyboard, a mouse, a switch—just your body,” Wolfe explained in his announcement on Medium.

GV joined Lux in co-leading the $28 million Series A investment, with participation from Founders Fund and the Amazon Alexa Fund as well as existing investors Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, Breyer Capital and Fuel Capital. Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, Warby Parker CEO David Gilboa, Cyan Banister and other angel investors also joined the round, which brings the company’s total funding to $39 million.

CTRL-labs was co-founded by Thomas Reardon, who created Internet Explorer during his time at Microsoft and later went on to get his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Columbia University. He started CTRL-labs in New York in 2015 with fellow Columbia Ph.D.s Patrick Kaifosh and Timothy Machado.

Later this year, the company plans to release its developer’s kit, which will help outside designers integrate CTRL-labs’ novel brain-machine interface into applications across VR/AR, robotics and more.

  • kate-clark-1.jpg
    Written by Kate Clark
    Kate Clark was a staff writer at PitchBook.

    A Seattle native, Kate attended the University of Washington where she studied journalism and international studies. She previously wrote about the Indian startup ecosystem in Bengaluru and freelanced in the Seattle area. Follow her on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.
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