DAQRI buys EEG tracker Melon to build out augmented reality helmet

By Jonah Comstock
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MelonMelon, the EEG-tracking headband company that raised nearly triple its initial goal in a 2013 crowdfunding campaign, has been acquired by DAQRI, an enterprise augmented reality company founded in 2010, for an undisclosed amount.

DAQRI's CEO Brian Mullins announced the acquisition from the keynote stage at the 4D Expo, an event hosted by the company. DAQRI is working on something it calls "4D," a catch-all term for technology that displays data directly in the user's environment somehow rather than confining it to a screen. One facet of that work is a Smart Helmet the company is developing, and Melon's technology will be incorporated into it.

“The EEG space has immediate potential to enhance 4D wearables with safety features, as well as long term potential to create a game-changing brain-computer interface that will allow you to control 4D interfaces and objects in the real world,” Mullins said in a statement. "We have been working with EEG technology in conjunction with augmented reality for several years and it was clear that the Melon team was really pushing the limits of what was possible today, and in the future. We couldn’t be more excited to have them join the DAQRI team."

Melon, as a consumer product, is not dead. The Melon team will also continue working on fulfilling outstanding crowdfunding orders for its Melon headband and on developing Version 2 of the device, even as they also advise on the incorporation of Melon's technology into the Smart Helmet. Nor will Melon lose its identity as, at least partially, a health device. According to a statement from DAQRI, Melon's health tracking capabilities will expand the functionality of the Smart Helmet.

"DAQRI’s Smart Helmet bridges the gap between potential and experience, enhancing human abilities by providing visual work instructions and safety alerts, integrated with the wearers’ real-time environment," the company wrote in a release. "With the addition of Melon’s technology, the Smart Helmet will also be able to monitor workers’ vital signs like heart rate, skin temperature, stress level, attention and fatigue, and provide real time analysis if the worker is in danger. The combination of 4D and biometrics will lead to more efficient and accurate work, as well as safer and healthier workforces."

It's hard to guess at the value of the acquisition. Melon's only funding to date, other than the $290,000 it raised on Kickstarter, was an undisclosed seed round from SOSventures. DAQRI, meanwhile, has at least $17 million in VC funding.

Under the name Axio, Melon first tried to crowdfund its device on Kickstarter in 2012, but was rejected by the platform's then-stringent guidelines against health projects. A second attempt in 2013 was more successful. The wearable was initially pitched as an aid for focus and concentration, complete with an app that used the device as a controller for a biofeedback game. But the company was open from the get-go to exploring other use cases, including sleep tracking.

Melon has competition in the EEG-tracking headband space, although it's still early days and each EEG wearable company is really taking its own approach. InterAxon Muse and Emotiv Insight are two of the better-known players with headband-like offerings.

"The Melon team is excited to be joining DAQRI, where we will continue to grow and improve our current product as well as implement our technology in new areas, such as health and safety in industry,” Arye Barnehama, co-founder and CEO of Melon, said in a statement. “We built Melon to empower people with information about their bodies that was not previously available outside of research labs or hospitals. Joining DAQRI will allow us to integrate our wearable sensors into products that will improve the lives of industrial workers, making them safer and healthier, by personalizing technology to their biology.”