I’ve always wanted superpowers. I’m not really picky about the type of extra human ability, either. Super speed, super strength, invisibility, the power to turn into a rabid squirrel and run up a villain’s pant legs … it doesn’t matter.
But this month with the exclusive Canadian launch of the Myo armband at Best Buy, I can soon be controlling all sorts of things—from games and toys, to computers, TVs and more—all with a wave of my hand or snap of my fingers, just like I had the power of telekinesis.
What’s a “Myo?”
Created by Ontario’s Thalmic Labs, the Myo gesture control armband uses a technique known as electromyography to read electrical signals coming from the muscles in your forearm, and maps them to natural gestures you make with your hand and fingers. Using those gestures allows you to wirelessly control a wide range of devices, eliminating the need to hold traditional controllers, laser pointers, presentation clickers, or remotes.
The gizmo, which kind of reminds me of Spiderman’s forearm-mounted web shooters (to make another nerdy comic book reference), lets you do things like wave a hand to skip tracks or fast forward while listening to music, or tap your fingers while giving presentations to advance through a slideshow.
It’s kind of like having magic powers. It’d certainly make you look like a magician at your next office persentation.
And do you remember using your finger and thumb as a gun when you were a kid? Well the Myo has the potential to bring that fantasy to life, letting you take down baddies or hostile aliens in first person shooter games with bullets from your imaginary gun. Or, if you prefer, you can decapitate someone with an air sword. Everyone’s got their own preference. But, imagine pairing the Myo with the immersive virtual reality of something like the Oculus Rift, and you’re talking about my new reason to call in sick to work. Unemployment here I come.
Is this new tech?
Gesture-control systems are nothing new. Microsoft’s Kinect is a gesture control system for the Xbox console, however all these types typically use cameras to detect the movements and therefore can be thrown off by bad lighting, distances and your little brother obnoxiously standing in the way. But because the Myo interprets your hand gestures directly from your muscle movements, the Myo does away with all those limitations. Plus, it also works with devices that don’t even have cameras at all.
Right now, the Myo only recognizes a few different types of hand gestures and movements, and probably can’t do any better at controlling things like video games than a good old fashioned keyboard and mouse combo. However, since Thalmic gave developers advance prototypes of the device, and there has been quite a bit of hype around the Myo since it was teased a couple years ago, you can be sure more gestures are being worked on. It’s also already compatible with a wide range of programs and apps, including YouTube, Netflix, Minecraft and a lot more, so out of the box there is lots to play around with for your hand-waggling pleasure. It may not let you shoot webs or run at super speed, but the Myo does seem like a cool piece of wearable tech that certainly has the potential to make you feel like you’ve got all the power in your hands. All that’s missing is some tights. The Myo Gesture Control Armband is now available (it’s also available in white) at Best Buy.