Medical Devices

Wow of the week: Startup creates armband with gesture control to unleash the inner Jedi

In a move sure to blur the line between people and devices, a technology startup has developed an armband that reads the electrical activity in muscles and translates them into commands for computers, mobile devices and other electronics through a Bluetooth Low Energy connection. But even cooler, it also is encouraging developers to use its hardware to experiment, build, and eventually profit from it.

Thalmic Labs’ MYO gesture armband uses electromyography — technology that’s been used for physical therapy and has applications for prosthetic devices. In a demo of the MYO, users select and play a song from their computer and turn the volume up, present a slide show and control a vehicle. It’s a really well-produced ad, observed a marketing friend. If it works as well when it’s made available to the public later this year it could take some of the shine off Google Glasses and gesture devices that rely on a camera.

Thalmic Labs was started last year by Aaron Grant, Matthew Bailey, and Stephen Lake who graduated from University of Waterloo Mechatronics Engineering in Ontario Canada and now employs 10. It’s currently part of Y Combinator’s winter 2013 class and has raised $1.1 million.

You have to like a product with a tagline that purrs: Unleash your inner Jedi.

In an interview with Wired, Lake said: “If you think about your daily life, you use your hands to interact with and manipulate just about everything you do, from pressing numbers on your phone to picking up your coffee,” says Lake. “Now think if we can take all those motions and actions and plug them into just about any computer or digital system, the possibilities are endless.”

Its MYO Api will be available to developers to connect to their own systems or build new products later this year when the wristband becomes available for sale.


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