Extending the Body with Wearable Tech: Featured Speaker Chris Goodine
Technology has done a great job at augmenting our mental capabilities. We now have an infinite ability to know and remember things thanks to the internet and services like Google, IMDB, Wikipedia and the like. But when it comes to our physical skills like walking, seeing, touching and so on, technology hasn’t really played a part…until now. Integrating the tech with our body through wearable technology is starting to show us the potential of extending our physicality beyond our natural capabilities. One of these devices is the gesture control armband, Myo.
Created by Canadian startup, Thalmic Labs, the Myo armband uses the kinetic energy in your arm to identify hand gestures and is also equipped with motions sensors to detect the movement of your arms. When connected to any smart “thing” using Bluetooth, like your tablet or Smart TV, the Myo turns your hand into a controller letting users swipe through pages, or turn up the volume with just a flick of the hand.
Thalmic Labs is getting ready to release the final production unit of the Myo to its developer community in the next month. A select few of the over 10,000 developer applicants currently have an alpha unit of the Myo to help create some initial applications for the device. The Thalmic team have released videos on its YouTube channel giving a sneak peek of the types of apps that are being worked on including the use of the Myo to control robotics, play games, fly a drone and enhance the Oculus Rift virtual reality experience.
Chris Goodine, Developer Evangelist at Thalmic Labs, told Designers of Things that one of the biggest learnings from the initial developer access was how the developer community started to create developer tools for the device. This inspired the Thalmic Team to create more support for its SDK for the official developer roll-out.
Goodine told us that the first step developers usually take with the Myo is to implement gestures into their existing software in lieu of touch or a mouse. For Goodine this is a great start but often the value proposition in using gesture within the app isn’t exactly clear. He believes that once developers get the hang of using gesture, they will start to think outside the box to create net new experiences for the Myo.
As gesture is a new input, Goodine explained that the Myo is expected to come with a tutorial to help users understand the basics. The Myo will also come equipped with only a handful of gestures to start which should help reduce any confusion. He is also seeing developers include a command screen or guided help in their own apps to help the user orient themselves.
The Myo is currently in pre-orders and is expected to ship later this Fall after the developer units are in the hands of the developer community. It will be quite exciting to see what apps will be available for users at that time and how the developers utilized gesture to take there experiences to the next level.
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This article is part of our featured speaker series for Designers of Things Conference which takes place September 23-24, 2014 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, California. Get 25% off VIP and Tech passes now through July 26, 2014 by clicking here.