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Armband of brothers: new device for gesture control

gadgets Updated: Feb 28, 2013 15:32 IST
Leap Motion


The MYO armband is the latest in a growing number of products to offer "Minority Report"-style gesture controls for computers and mobile devices.

Built by Thalmic Labs, the MYO is worn on the arm, below the elbow, and connects to a computer or other device via Bluetooth. It works by monitoring the electrical activity of the wearer's muscles, translating those activities into gesture-based commands. At $149 and ready for pre-order now, the MYO will ship with its own API (application programming interface), meaning that purchasers can develop their own uses for it.

Devices offering gesture control are growing in number but what might set the MYO apart from its competitors is the fact that it is a wearable device rather than a technology that needs to be integrated into an existing product. For example, at this week's Mobile World Congress, French company Fogale Nanotech demonstrated its Sensation technology which, when integrated into a smartphone or tablet, enables the user to operate the device via hand or finger movements as much as 10 centimeters away from its screen.

Likewise, PrimeSense, the company behind the Microsoft Kinect has miniaturized its sensor technology so that manufacturers can integrate it into smartphones, tablets or notebooks.

The current ‘poster child' for gesture, however, is Leap Motion. The company's Leap Motion Controller is not much larger than a USB flash drive and similarly plugs directly into a computer's USB port. Once the drivers are installed, the controller can track movements to 1/100th millimeter -- smaller than the tip of a pin -- with no visible lag time, has a 150-degree field of view, and tracks individual hands and all 10 fingers at 290 frames per second. What's more, it is effective within a space of up to 9m3. At $70 it is considerably cheaper than the MYO, but unlike the MYO, the Leap Motion Controller is currently limited to use with desktop and notebook computers.