Meet MYO, a $149 Wearable Gesture Control from Thalmic Labs [Video]

NEW YORK | Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 5:37pm EDT

A company called Thalmic Labs has just launched a sci-fi gesture control for Mac and Windows PCs via its new armband called MYO.

Here’s an accessory that looks like something straight out of a James Bond movie, or Minority Report for that matter.

It’s been called “Minority Report” technology, but gesture control is here and the newest, most advanced iteration is being presented as a wearable device by Thalmic Labs.

Created by Canadian startup Thalmic Labs, the armband senses muscle activity and executes your motions throughout a range of platforms, such as video games and desktop computers (both OS X and Windows).

Connecting to your desktop or mobile device via low-power Bluetooth, the $149 gizmo detects the electrical activity produced by your muscles, translating finger and hand movement into user interface interactions, Kinect style.

The company’s video demo also shows the device being used to remote-control a military robot, a heads-up display recorder and a tiny quadrocopter.

According to the company, the Myo can recognize up to 20 distinct gestures, including mid-air turns of the wrist and finger taps.

The technology behind the armband is explained on the company’s website:

“The MYO armband lets you use the electrical activity in your muscles to wirelessly control your computer, phone, and other favorite digital technologies.”

Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, was sufficiently impressed with the armband, saying: “Very cool and impressive. I hope this finds its way into our future soon.”

The armband uses Bluetooth connectivity to pair with your devices and send commands.

With this, Thalmic Labs says you can wave goodbye to the technology behind Microsoft’s Kinect or Samsung’s new smart TVs, which employ camera tracking so that your movements control what happens on a screen.

Along with Thalmic’s proprietary muscle activity sensors and Bluetooth 4.0 technology, the armband is equipped with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and an ARM processor.

Thalmic Labs says the MYO will be “fully compatible” with Microsoft Windows and Mac OS, with open source development available for Android and iOS application integration.  (Thalmic Labs did not immediately respond when contacted by ABC News for further information.), as ABC News reports.

Something like the MYO armband could go a long way toward adding another layer of gesture-based interaction to our devices, bypassing a touchscreen.

Considering the well-received debut of the Leap Motion gesture controller device, set for release later this year, it will be interesting to see which gesture control device most early adopters choose.

And of course other control methods are also looking to reimagine the way we interface with technology, such as Innovega’s futuristic contacts and Tobii’s eye tracking.

Though Google recently launched a Steve Jobs non-approved touchscreen notebook, the Pixel, Apple’s multitouch implementation on Mac notebooks has traditionally relied on the built-in glass trackpad in order to avoid the arm fatigue associated with interacting with the vertical touch surfaces for prolonged periods of time.

Apple’s patent filings reveal the company is researching three-dimensional gesture control and Samsung has already implemented specific hand movements on the Galaxy S III.

Thalmic Labs, a startup founded last year by three University of Waterloo Mechatronics Engineering graduates, is now accepting pre-orders via their web store.

Limited quantities will be available initially and the armband will ship in late 2013, writes iDownload Blog.

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