Every now and then, a new product concept comes along that has the potential to do amazing things for both the sighted and visually impaired communities. In this instance, a new product was unveiled called Myo that could drastically enhance how everyone interacts with a number of devices or computers.
Gesture control isn’t a brand new technology by any means. Multiple video game systems use it to enhance how players interact with the games they’re playing and even cell phones can now look back at users with front facing cameras to detect their movements and perform certain functions. But all of these gesture control systems have gathered data by “looking” at people or objects using visual sensors, cameras, or both. Myo takes a completely different approach, and is why it has some real potential in the visually impaired community.
Eschewing the need for actions to be sensed visually, Myo works by detecting a person’s muscle movements in their arm. Depending on the type of movement, Myo can tell a computer or device to perform a certain function. For instance, when a user is wearing the Myo armband, they can snap their fingers to start playing music using a certain program on their computer. After starting the music, the user can then press all five of their fingertips together and rotate their hand clockwise to turn up the volume. Because certain hand movements trigger certain muscle groups in your forearm, Myo can detect the electrical impulses that control those muscles and turn that information into a function that is established by the user. Certain movements, like the snapping of fingers, always use very specific muscle groups, so any false inputs are avoided. Other movements that have been developed by the Myo engineers also ensure a very high degree of accuracy.
The reason why Myo is so promising is because you don’t have to see your computer or device in order to turn gestures into a function. If you learn the various hand or arm movements, then you can use Myo successfully to perform countless tasks on your phone or computer. The learning curve is small and is the same for everyone.
Myo is currently only available to developers and those who are interested in pre-ordering a unit. It will cost around $150 and will be available to the public by year-end.