WATCH: (Jun. 11, 2014) With the release of the final version of the Myo Armband, a Kitchener-based high-tech start-up has moved from development to production in just two years. Laura Zilke reports.
With the release of the final version of the Myo Armband, a Kitchener-based, high-tech start-up has moved from development to production in just two years.
Three University of Waterloo grads, Stephan Lake, Matthew Bailey and Aaron Grant, founded the company Thalmic Labs in 2012, the same year they graduated.
The company’s marketing and creative director, Sameera Banduk, says the trio developed the Myo after raising over a million dollars in seed money.
The plastic and rubber device is worn just below the elbow. Utilizing eight surgical-grade stainless steel plates, it can actually sense the electrical activities of the arm muscles.
As Banduk explains, it then translates the electrical activity into computer commands.
“When I make a fist for example, you can feel the tension in your forearm”, says Banduk.
“It’s actually detecting the electrical activity in that forearm and translating it through machine learning algorithms.”
During a demonstration Thalmic spokesperson Scott Greenberg uses the device to demonstrate a lightweight drone.
“The Myo can sense what my arm is doing,” he says.
He snaps his fingers and the drone fires to life. With a clenched fist, Greenberg shows off how it also reads the movement of his arm.
“If I move my arm around in a circle the Myo can recognize that person just did that.”
Greenberg moves his arm closer to his chest — the drone flies forward.
He then pushes his arm back – the drone flies back.
A twist of the arm – and the drone tilts.
His arm is in complete control.
This isn’t the Myo’s only application – prototypes have been released to select developers, who are designing applications for use with the technology — and the the list is growing.
“Gaming, presentation, interacting with music around the house, surgeons can use it in the operating room to interact with their slides digitally, without breaking their sterile environment,” says Banduk.
The Myo’s uses will continue to grow – one thousand more developers will get the Myo by the end of July.
The company won’t disclose exactly how many were pre-sold to consumers, but the number is said to be more than 40 thousand units.
The Myo retails for $149 U.S. and ships to Canada for $10.