The days of Minority Report motion gesture controls may soon be upon us. Canadian company Thalmic Labs has recently unveiled a forthcoming product they claim puts camera-based gesture sensors to shame. Combining both motion and muslce-sensing tech, the MYO armband allows users to interact with their digital devices with whatever swipes, pinches, and hand gestures they can dream up. This is an especially cool prospect for active folks who love staying linked up while on the go. (Wirelessly controlled MechWarriors, anyone?)
What It Is
Set for release in late 2013, the MYO looks similar to many motion-sensing fitness trackers currently on the market like the Nike FuelBand. The bracelet-like band slips over the forearm — as opposed to the wrist — and has built-motion sensors. But unlike your average tracker or pedometer, MYO contains special sensors that pick up the electric activity in your arm muscles, allowing it to sense every gesture made from the elbow down. As the company's video (below) shows, the device potentially lets users control everything from remote-controlled helicopters to slideshow presentations and video games. We were especially excited about the skier who used the device to control a video camera in his helmet and then upload footage of his latest jump — all while practically still in the air.
For the fitness-conscious, the MYO is a sort of next-evolution of devices that descended from video game peripherals like the Nintendo Wii+, XBox Kinect, and Playstation Move. These controllers focused on gesture-based controls, encouraging users to get off the couch and actually move to the physical action of their virtual worlds.
But the Bluetooth-enabled MYO's potential goes beyond the TV, since it can theoretically link up to any digital device. The implications for sports and fitness could be enormous; we can imagine everything from real-time feedback on the motion and muscles involved in perfecting a basketball shot to referees updating scoreboards straight from the field.
Is It Legit?
We hope so, though until we get one in our hands (er, around our forearms), the device's accuracy is still up in the air. The company claims MYO is sensitive enough to detect even the smallest hand movements while being smart enough to include a distinct "on/off" gesture unlikely to crop up in regular use. And while the device looks rugged enough on video, whether or not it can hold up to real cold, heat, and sweat remains to be seen (though we're sure early users will put it through its paces). No word yet on battery life, which will obviously impact the device's real-world applications.
MYO will be shipped with full Mac and PC compatibility, and the company is working to get it Android and iOS capable in the near future. They're also opening up an API to potential developers hoping to sync MYO with all sorts of devices — basically anything with Bluetooth or remote-control capability, which means we could see cool things like fitness tracking apps designed for MYO users. At $149 to preorder, it's not priced too far off from some current fitness tracking bands, but it's got the potentially to be much, much more.
Are you excited to try out MYO? Thinking about preordering? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author @d_tao.
Photo courtesy of Thalmic Labs.