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MYO gesture control armband

By Damir Beciri
One Comment25 February 2013

myo-gesture-control-1Thalmic Labs has launched MYO – an armband which relies on a combination of myoelectric technology and motion sensing. The interest of Apple to develop a wristwatch with similar features confirms that this technology could be the next step in our interaction with augmented reality and other gadgets around us. Anyone able to use their fingers and hands can use MYO to control and interact with technology.

Unlike wristwatches, MYO gesture control device is worn at the part of the forearm which is closer to the elbow. This placement wasn’t chosen accidentally because it enables the armband to detect the muscle activity in your forearm, and use the data to interpret the gestures you make. That allows MYO to track user gestures without a camera.

MYO uses Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy to communicate with the devices it is paired with. It features on-board, rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries, and an ARM processor. The device is outfitted with Thalmic’s proprietary muscle activity sensors and a 6-axis inertial measurement unit which track the motion.

The device has been designed in a one-size-fits-all manner that will accommodate most individuals. When tracking the positioning in space of the arm and hand, the device can detect subtle movements in all directions. According to its developers, movements can be detected very quickly. Since the muscles are activated slightly before your fingers actually start moving, MYO can detect some gestures before they actually happened.

The MYO works out of the box with things you already have – like your Mac or Windows PC. You can control presentations, video, content, games, browse the web, create music, edit videos, and so much more. As you can see in the following video, the device could find many uses in gaming, sports, information interaction and control of other paired devices.

The folks from Thalmic Labs claim that APIs for iOS and Android will additionally be available for developers to integrate MYO on those platforms. A unique gesture is used to enable and disable control using the MYO so it is unlikely that accidental input occurs. In order to further prevent accidental input, MYO is designed to alert the user via haptic feedback to let them know when it is enabled and detecting movement.

A limited number of MYO devices can be pre-ordered for $149, and the expected shipping date is set for late 2013. Aside the reaction from developer community, the success of the device might depend on potential competitors which could launch a similar product before MYO becomes popular.

While some people still claim this technology can’t perform as good as vision based tracking systems, a combination with other technologies as well as development of more advanced algorithms which combine and track both arms could prove to be more precise. Ideally, all of these technologies should be combined to offer the best of all approaches.

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    Article update

    Thalmic Labs published a video where they introduce some members of the Thalmic team and provided a sneak peak of MYO gesture control armband in action.


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