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February 26, 2013

Thalmic Labs launches the MYO, virtual control with the flick of a wrist

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Thalmic Labs has launched an innovative new armband today called MYO, which allows anyone to control and interact with technology using only their fingers and hands.

Now I would like to just stop and take a minute to think about that statement. The implications of this device are enormous, when you think of this type of technology; you think of Tom Cruise playing Chief John Anderton in Minority Report or Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in Iron Man. The way they flick their wrists and grab virtual information for manipulation; when we first saw it on the big screen, its safe to say we were gobsmacked.

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The unique gesture control device can be worn just above the elbow on either arm and detects the electrical activity produced by the user’s muscles. Some of the real world applications include being able to scroll up and down a webpage just by lifting or lowering your hand, as well as swiping to the left and right with two fingers in order to switch between desktop apps.

Promotional video from Myo

The armband might not be restricted to laptops and desktop computers though. It was unveiled showing a user controlling Mass Effect 3 character Commander John Shephard, simply by extending his arms as if he was holding one of the commanders weapon.

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MYO connects wirelessly with other devices using a low energy Bluetooth connection. The functionality is similar to that found in Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral, originally designed for the Xbox 360 console, but which has since become a popular user interface tool for modders which i covered earlier recently.

The difference however is that MYO doesn’t need a camera to sense the user’s movements. It’s certainly a different approach, but will have reduced functionality due to the fact that it’s tracking just one arm – rather than the entire body signature picked up by Kinect.

MYO is available to pre-order today for around £99 at Thalmic Labs is also launching the MYO API today though, which will allow other developers to experiment with the hardware and hopefully produce new innovative applications.

Thalmic Labs was founded in 2012 by three University of Waterloo Mechatronics Engineering graduates – Aaron Grant, Matthew Bailey, and Stephen Lake. The company has since grown to 10 employees and is now a part of Y Combinator’s winter 2013 cohort.

“As a company, we’re interested in how we can use technology to enhance our abilities as humans – in short, giving us superpowers,” Stephen Lake, co-founder and CEO of Thalmic Labs said. “We’re excited to see how the MYO blurs the lines between us and digital technology.”

Would you purchase one? What would you use it for?

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Jonny Polea

Editor in Chief at Beginners Tech

I joined Beginners Tech as a Technical Journalist in July 2012 and have never looked back. I love tech, gadgets, games and electronics; whether they are retro, current or future concepts. My loving fiancé Sarah has said that when I receive new items for review I’m like a kid in a toy shop – unable to leave it alone for two minutes! Coming from a design background, I am passionate about the design and aesthetics of tech as well as functionality.