Leonardo DiCaprio has become an investor and also advisor in MindMaze, a neuro-computing company that has been building mind-machine interfaces. Yes, it sounds all Arthur C. Clarke, but this company which captures brain activity and has already been used successfully in the healthcare industry to speed up rehab from strokes and brain injuries, is now looking to expand into virtual reality. The VR industry is getting ready to explode and in the next year we expect a big shake-up and shakeout with just a handful of big companies as the go-to for VR production.
One of them might be this one. It has already raised $100M in capital and in the health industry is working to decode brain signals in real-time. MindMaze is the developer of MindOs, which mixes neuroscience, mixed reality and artificial intelligence by enabling real-time integration of signals from the brain with the environment the person is in. Their application, when applied to VR, opens a flurry of possibilities in entertainment and gaming. What they strive to do is to bridge the emotional gap between the physical and virtual worlds.
MindMaze likely sold DiCaprio not only on the technology but what it could be used for — advocacy work including tackling the very big problem of climate change. DiCaprio interests have long been care of the oceans and environment and his foundation has given out millions to those causes. Just this week he pledged to donate $20M to groups fighting climate change. He also sites on the board of the National Resources Defense Council, among others.
DiCaprio issued a quote for the announcement: “MindMaze technology has already impacted the lives of many people, and it is poised to define the way we will experience and create content in the future. I am excited about the possibilities of MindMaze’s technology, especially for its potential to be a driving force in media and entertainment in the years to come.”
MindMaze launched its first social VR product – Mask – earlier this year in April. Mask uses machine learning and bio-signal processing to decode real-life facial expressions in tens of milliseconds to instantly replicate that expression on a virtual reality avatar. The product attaches to any existing console and can understand a users’ physical real-time expressions – from smiles to scowls to frowns – and apply them into an avatar on any game or app. Yes, it’s a mask.
“We are already seeing immense potential for the application of our technology outside of healthcare, specifically in entertainment, sports and social VR,” said Dr. Tej Tadi, CEO and founder of MindMaze in making the announcement. “As we continue to gain traction in these industries, the addition of Leo to our advisory board is a vote of confidence in our technology and road map for ushering in a new age of interaction between humans and machines.”
The company just received FDA clearance (in Q2 2017) to begin marketing another program, MindMotion PRO in the U.S. Additionally, MindMaze announced a strategic investment towards the acquisition of GaitUp and its objective motion analysis solutions for sports and wellness.