Amazon, Intel Invest in Gesture-Control Startup Thalmic Labs

  • $120 million deal is major funding round for Canadian tech
  • Thalmic builds armbands that let people control computers

A Canadian startup that lets people use gestures instead of a mouse or keyboard to interact with computers scored major funding from Inc., Intel Corp. and Fidelity Investments.

Thalmic Labs Inc. raised $120 million, the Kitchener, Ontario-based company said in a statement Monday, a sum rarely seen in Canadian venture capital. First Round Capital, Spark Capital and iNovia also participated in the deal. Thalmic builds an armband that interprets electrical signals in arm muscles to allow users to play games or swipe through articles hands-free.

Major technology companies are pressing deeper into the emerging fields of augmented and virtual reality, where computer projections and headsets blur the line between human and computer interaction. Facebook Inc. bought Oculus VR Inc. for $2 billion in 2014 to build out its virtual reality hardware business. The investment in Thalmic from Seattle-based Amazon came from a fund that focuses on tools and apps that could work alongside its Alexa voice-controlled home assistant.

"Thalmic is pushing the boundaries of what we thought possible with hands-free technology," Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Alexa, said in the statement.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.