Gesture-based control of electronics, hyped as the future (or, at least, one future) of user interaction, is slowly unrolling to the public. A device that drops later this year pledges to let users “unleash your inner Jedi,” by seamlessly transforming our arms, fingers, and hands into the remote controls for our laptops and countless other devices.
Most gesture-based technologies use a camera to capture motion for interpretation by a computer. This new product, MYO (best thought of as a digital cousin to the exercise sweatband), “lets you use the electrical activity in your muscles to wirelessly control your computer, phone, and other favorite digital technologies,” according to its manufacturers.
Sounds cyborgian. And it is. The thing senses our muscle activity and motions as intimate as changes in individual fingers, and will translate an arm swipe or finger flex into scrolling along a webpage, via Bluetooth and software. Its promotional video, which went viral with more than 1 million views in the past few days, shows countless applications of the MYO: pointing fingers into the shape of a gun for a first person shooter game, a slide of hand rewinding a video, and a snap turning on iTunes. Supposedly, it can detect muscle activity just as motion is initiated. The result is that it seems to recognize a gesture even before it happens.
The manufacturer, Thalmic Labs, realizes the new technology will have developers salivating and will let people create apps around MYO through its API. The public can preorder one today for $150.