Toronto-based startup InteraXon, maker of the Muse brainwave-sensing headband, had a very interesting potential suitor, according to a source close to the startup speaking to TechCrunch. Specifically, Google came calling, but InteraXon isn’t necessarily interested in being acquired by the search giant, our source reports.
A recent profile of InteraXon from the Financial Post provides a potential reason the startup is shy when it comes to a Google exit: co-founder and CEO Ariel Garten told the paper that she was in it for the long haul, with the aim of building a $500 million business over a span of five years. The startup has $7.2 million in funding already, with a $6 million Series A round from Horizon, OMERS Ventures, A-Grade (yep, Ashton’s investment vehicle), Felicis and more, plus $1.2 million in earlier funds raised from ff Venture Capital and others. The startup also raised nearly $300,000 in a crowdfunding campaign for its Muse headband which ended in December last year.
Garten was approached by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, longtime champion of the Google Glass wearable headset, according to our source, with an offer to discuss Google’s interest in the company. InteraXon’s Muse headband is a six-sensor headset that monitors brainwaves, for use with brain exercise training software, as well as a development platform for building apps to control virtually anything, including remotely pouring the user their own beer, or turning on TVs/controlling connected devices simply with the power of thought. Below, you can see the InteraXon Muse in action, as demonstrated by our own Colleen Taylor.
The tech could fit into Google’s plans in a number of ways. Most immediately, it would offer Glass an alternate input method that wouldn’t require users to employ their hands or voice at all. Navigating the UI and performing actions in Glass software could conceivably be brainwave-directed, which would solve its occasionally awkward use paradigms and bring it that much closer to realizing the dream of truly hands-free, wearable computing.
Of course, it also has ramifications in terms of its potential for collecting and aggregating data from a new source. Brainwaves are a newly emerging biometric information category, and one that has immense potential in terms of what benefits it could yield to a data-centric company like Google. As InteraXon repeatedly notes, measuring brainwaves doesn’t give you the ability to read thoughts or record dreams, but it does represent a tantalizing new aggregate data pool from which to draw insights that could eventually shed light on customer intent. The Muse headset does indeed promise to help users gain better awareness of their emotions and moods, after all.
Recent rumors pointed to Google’s growing interest in wearable technology acquisition targets, and InteraXon definitely fits the bill. The company was actually founded in 2007, too, and originally focused on doing large-scale corporate installations before launching its consumer product crowdfunding campaign last year.
Update: InteraXon officially denies their was an acquisition offer made, but our source remains confident the company was approached by Google’s people.