Myo armband set to offer touchless, mobile-friendly gesture control

By Simon Sage on 25 Jun 2014 11:00 am
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While in Kitchener- Waterloo for BlackBerry's Annual General Meeting, I popped by Thalmic Labs to see how their Myo armband was coming along. This little piece of wearable tech uses an array of sensors to detect how your forearm is flexing based on hand movement, and translating that data for remote control. The use cases for this are varied, ranging from piloting an AR Parrot Drone to smashing objects in Oculus Rift games. The electromyography sensors read electrical impulses through the skin while the inertial measuring unit can figure out how you're moving your arm and how fast, then that data is beamed over to a computer or mobile over Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy.

Though the fidelity of gesture recognition might not quite be on par with what you'll get from the Leap Motion sensor (namely in the area of fine digit detection), Myo is certainly more unrestrained as far as being dependent on some kind of camera goes. The app ecosystem is still currently young and unproven, but there are plenty of ideas kicking around. Volume control for media, touchless control of Philips Hue light bulbs, and flipping through PowerPoint slides are just a few potential apps we could look forward to. Myo units will ship with some core functionality out of the box, but it sounds like Thalmic is going to be relying on the developer community at large to create compelling use cases. For a burgeoning technology with few analogues this can be a challenge, but Thalmic has support for the Unity engine, which should make life at least a little bit easier for game developers.

Myo developer units are shipping out next month, and the lighter, slimmer, improved consumer model is hitting shelves in September complete with Android and iOS support. If you're interested in either one for $150, hit up Thalmic's preorder page. How would you guys want to use this kind of accessory?

1 comment

carlos perez3

This kind of technology seems it would be useful to the deaf if the band can recognize sign language movements. That way it would broadcast what they wanted to say to those who don't understand sign language. Imagine the connectedness to the world for those who have little access to it.