MYO Is Used By Armin van Buuren

Remember MYO? That cool bracelet tracking your movements and muscle traction.

DJMag number 1 DJ Armin van Buuren now uses it in his live sets! He and his team like to try something new and wanted to have a more interactive control over what is going on stage. Infrared solution would not work in a club environment with all these strobes and lighting equipment. Luckily, technical team came across MYO, which works via Bluetooth and tests were proven to be a success.

Now, Armin has used it on several gigs and was pleased so far. He can control many devices at the same time thanks to custom programming code, capturing his stage movements. Watch for yourself! Good example, when technology and music find each other. Great job, MYO!

Emotiv – Mind Power Controls Reality

A bit a while ago I told you about controlling objects with gestures (Nymi and Myo). This time I have something even more amazing. How about changing reality by the force of… mind!

This sounds like a science fiction, but you can already pre-order a stylish “iPhone-like” helmet, which allows you to play video-games, control toys (like helicopters or racing cars) and even drive a wheelchair!

Let’s take a closer look. Device is named Emotiv Insight and connects to computer (or smartphone, wheelchair etc) wirelessly via Bluetooth. Yes, no annoying wires, nothing like that. Helmet uses five sensors (dry ones, no gel), which measure electrical activity of certain brain zones and guesses what you meant right now.

Every brain is a bit different, so first you need to calibrate Emotiv by letting it know, how your brain behaves when you think about “up”, “down”, even “disappear”. After it learns, your thoughts will trigger this or that action. Simple and brilliant!

Team behind Emotiv is led by ambitious Tan Le, I found an video from 2010 (imagine, how it improved since then!!), where she demonstrates early prototype. This blows my mind!

Currently there are four main usage scenarios:

  • Computer games. Control objects without using keyboard or joystick. Of course, it applies more to non-action scenarios with slower gameplays at the moment. I think, it is a bit early to shoot enemies in Counter Strike or Call of Duty.
  • Real world toys. This is much more interesting — helicopters, cars, boats etc. Some additional programming might be needed.
  • Freedom for disabled. It is already possible to control wheelchairs and simply computers by disabled people. This makes their lives much easier and bright.
  • Analyse own brain. Emotiv provides an app, which checks your brain activity on different occasions and provides intelligent advice. Maybe you can learn more, while listening to Mozart? Or Justin Bieber? 🙂

Emotiv Insight Control

In addition, Emotiv has 6-axis inertial sensor (roll, pitch, yaw, vertical, lateral, longitudinal acceleration), which gives you even more flexibility and control. Basically, it tracks head movements, nods, etc.

How much does this candy cost? There is no official price at the moment as you can only register for a queue, but you can have a fairly good approximation by looking at Kickstarter prices.

$229 for consumer edition, $329 for Developer edition (access to SDK to create your own apps), $429 for Research edition (all above + access to raw brainwave data for extensive analysis). Delivery was promised around March/April 2014.

I am a bit surprised that SDK kit costs something because it should be Emotiv team’s own intention to build the interest to this innovative yet quite unknown device. But anyway this promises to be an amazing experience, will be watching for a mass production.

Nymi Wristband Checks Your Identity

Wearables will be the next big trend in 2014 with massive launch of the Google Glass, smartwatches (yes, they are already here, but not so popular yet), gesture controllers (take MYO or advanced version of the Leap Motion controller if they design one).

Let’s take a look at one of the most existing devices (according to the video trailer, of course). It is called Nymi (what a phonetical candy!) and it is a sexy Bluetooth wristband. Main idea is a personal authentication, but it also has many other neat features.

Company has a good promotional video, which shows how our life will change in the next 2-3 years.

Basically, functions can be split into the following categories:

  • Personal device authentication. No need to enter password and pins into numerous computer devices. System checks your EKG (Electrocardiography) and creates a unique profile.
  • Car access. I brought it into a separate bonus option. Movie shows how you can unlock and drive Tesla S car without keys and remote controllers. I believe, same principle can be applied to create bicycle locks, for example.
  • “NFC” access. Why quotes? Because it is still Bluetooth, but principle remains same — accessing locked doors (hotels, offices, maybe even your own home).
  • Gesture control. It can act as a MYO controller — you turn your hand and some activity is performed.
  • Payments. This will surely not work out of the box but there are already some NFC payment technologies, most likely credit cards will disappear sooner or later and Nymi option can conquer the world.
  • Cloud freedom. That’s just a nice add-on, not related directly with Nymi. Ability to view your files not only on different devices but also on a TV of your hotel room. Or a picture of your family, appearing on the digital frame when system confirms you are, say, Mr X.

Additional features include ability to automatically lock your devices, car etc, when you walk away by simply losing the signal. Also, creators claim that wristband is just an initial idea, but in future same technology can be put into rings or pendants.

Nymi Wristband ColorsOf course, it cannot be without serious concerns, mainly about authentication part of Nymi. Some people doubt that reliable secure EKG pattern can be measured by such a tiny device and by just placing a finger on the sensor. Bionym team (company behind Nymi) ensures that this is enough for secure and reliable authentication. I am not specialist in this area, but I really do not have doubts in their confidence, as preorders are already accepted and device is due to be shipped in the beginning of 2014.

There is one paradox related with the ease of EKG authentication though. If reading secure EKG profile is so easy, then what prevents it from being stolen? Bad guy can touch you with the sensor in the crowd, read your “identity” (EKG profile), flash it into hacked device and get access to everything you have. Sounds scary. But as I understood, technology requires not only unique owner’s EKG, but exact Nymi device as well and if its “key” (parameters) cannot be easily hacked, then thief will have to steal device.

Bluetooth signal should also be highly secured (like car alarm controls), so that it is not simply intercepted and decoded, of course.

Another concern raised is related to physical activity and people with heart disorders. Activity can affect authentication, so it is better not to run during this process. But afterwards, device works itself by checking if it is on the owner or not. This is done by sensors and repetitive EKG reading not needed.

Heart disorders is another topic. Developers are pretty sure that most of such health issues will not affect their method, but it has not yet been tested too much, so remains a semi-open question.

Nymi needs active power and Bionym assures that it can last for about one week without charge. Good if it is really true as battery is a weak unit in most of the modern devices (except pure NFC ones and e-ink readers).

No plans to integrate technology in other devices as developers want initial wristband version to be launched as soon as possible. I would like to see a small screen there on top, kinda of symbiosis between Nymi and smartwatch. Though maybe it is too bulky then.

Finally, software programmers can get access to API and help to spread the usage of Nymi by altering their apps. Bionym promises that at least device unlock feature should work on Android quite soon.

Price is quite reasonable at $79 (+ 10$ shipping), expect it to be sent out in the first half of 2014 (no exact dates yet). It is available in three colors — black, white and orange, check Nymi website for details.

UPDATE: Just saw news from that Apple got patent on heart-rate monitoring and this can mean not only tracking for sport purposes, but also biometric authentication similar to Nymi.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Augmented Features

There was a huge presentation of the new Samsung Galaxy S4 device. This blog is not really about all these mobile gadgets; there are plenty of such websites on the Internet. But there are couple of interesting augmented features I noticed.

Actually four, to be more precise. Two of them track your eyes: Smart Pause puts video on pause, when you stop watching it and Smart Scroll will scroll webpage or a book, when you look at the bottom of the screen.

Other two track gestures. Air Gesture “sees” hand movements and allows to show next pic from the gallery, for example. Air View shows letter contents, when you just point finger at the header (without even touching the screen). Same for thumbnails in gallery.

Small enhancements, but they are those small bricks that bring closer augmented future and seamless interaction with gadgets.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Smart Scroll

MYO Gesture Control Brings Magic

I thought that Leap Motion device is the future. With all its gesture controls and “Minority Report style” options. But here is something much more interesting — MYO device for your armband.

There are no optical sensors this time. The elastic armband controls not only arm movement, but also muscular activity. So, it can detect changes in hand gesture right down to each individual finger. There is NO LAG as MYO reads electrical signals in your muscles and they appear before you even start the gesture. Muscle-scanning and multi-axis accelerometer technology is proprietary.

And what is even more appealing, you can use it outside too. Imagine the possibilities! Thalmic founder Stephen Lake is totally right, when saying “There is a trend towards more tightly integrating technology with who we are as people“. We see it everywhere.

Myo Armband Muscles

Any device with Bluetooth will be supported — PC, smartphones and why not… Google Glass ?? Not everyone wants to talk to his device aloud, eye movement tracking can still be far away from perfect and pressing buttons on the glasses temple is wearisome and old-fashioned. Just curve finger or swipe a bit and image is posted to Facebook.

Video shows “Google Glass style” device on a skier, who controls it by MYO. Especially I liked business presentation example, take a look.

20 gestures are already recognized out of the box and there will be more for sure. It already has all the functionality to control computers, play games, show presentations etc. API will be documented for developers to create even more robust applications.

Price for such a magnificent device is only $149; sad news is that it is only a pre-order. Thalmic Labs says it is going to be available in late 2013, long time to wait.

But the future seems exciting.

Leap Motion – Minority Report Tool

Remember that famous Minority Report movie with Tom Cruise? Year 2002 and everyone fancied that big screen Cruise’s character was working with. What if I say that soon you are able to do the same? Yes, there are already Kinect and Wii with loads of games and I believe, everyone tried it at least one.

But Kinect has one major disadvantage – it is not precise enough. This is gaming console and has a broad yet inaccurate field. It is nice to jump, make strong arm/leg movements, but you are not able to, say, work with 3D modelling.

Leap Motion Controller

And 3D modelling was exactly the reason guys behind Leap Motion decided to create their controller. It just took too much time working with keyboard and mouse, than to move and drag virtual object by their own hands.

The result? Tiny box (a bit bigger, than a flash drive – around three inches by one inch wide), working with both Windows and Mac, costs… $70. Yes, seventy. Company just raised another $30 million, which a good indicator of the project.

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