Kitchener's Thalmic Labs unveils final Myo armband design

Thalmic Labs, a Kitchener, Ont.-based company, has unveiled the final design for the Myo armband, a wearable piece of technology that can manipulate electronic devices, like your computer, phone or gaming system.

Thalmic Labs, a Kitchener, Ont.-based company, has unveiled the final design for the Myo armband, a wearable piece of technology that can manipulate electronic devices, like your computer, phone or gaming system.

The Myo armband is worn just below your elbow and is made of a rubberized, plastic material. Stephen Lake, co-founder and CEO, said the armband is able to read tiny signals sent by the brain to initiate muscle movement. The information from each of the signals is tied a desired action.

"We know that from the certain muscles you've activated that you're rotating your arm left or right, or making a fist for example. Then that's sent over a wireless connection to the device it's controlling at that time," said Lake. 

Worn on the forearm, the Myo armband controls electronic devices by reading and interpreting muscle activity. (Thalmic Labs)

"One developer...has taken the technology and integrated it into a whole home audio system. In this example, controlling the volume could be as simple as reaching out, making a fist and then rotating your [fist] to the right to turn the volume up or to the left to turn the volume down, just like you were grasping a physical knob."

The Myo armband requires an activation gesture to turn on and off. Lake said the gesture wasn't something you would normally do in daily life, in order to avoid accidentally setting off a device.

Thalmic Labs has shipped out over 1,000 development kits, from interested individuals to Fortune 500 companies. Lake said beyond consumer applications, the Myo armband has been tested with display technologies for potential use in a workplace.

"[For instance] a surgeon who is going about their activity, they can control what they're seeing on [a] display," said Lake.

The Myo armband is available online for pre-order at $149. Pre-orders will start shipping out in September, with a broader commercial release slated for holiday season.