Canadian startup Thalmic Labs made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week with its MYO armband, the latest in the trend to wearable devices.
The gesture-based control device allows users to operate toys, video game functions, cameras, robotic devices and PCs based on the movement of muscles in the forearm.
Created by a Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., company that is innovating in the hot new field of human-computer interaction, the MYO is a narrow arm band that works with device you may already have, like a Mac or Windows PC.
Thalmic Labs co-founder Stephen Lake has been thinking about the MYO since his university days.
“This device picks up the tiny signals to muscles in your forearm and it’s detecting all the motions of your hands and fingers and you can control computers and any visual device,” Lake said in an interview with CBC’s The Lang & O’Leary Exchange.
The MYO features a new type of biosensor, which can pick up minute electrical impulses in our arm muscles. There's also an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer, which can record differences in hand and body movement.
At CES, the MYO was competing to woo consumers with Google Glass and Samsung and Sony smartwatches, among other wearable devices.
Unlike early wearable devices, it doesn’t require a camera to watch what the user is doing, nor a long training period to get it to respond.
“Once you put the device on for the first time, it’s very simple. You make a single gesture that calibrates it and tells us how it can work with your arm – in order to wear it, you’re going to put it on this way -- and from that it can detect all the motions and gestures,” Lake said.
Thalmic Labs is taking orders now for the MYO, from 138 countries around the world. It sells for $149.