Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor announced today (4 December 2013) that North American startup, Thalmic Labs, is using Nordic's nRF51822 2.4GHz System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the Bluetooth low energy wireless connectivity in what Thalmic claims is the world's first muscle activity electromyography-based gesture control device, called 'Myo'.
The US$149 Myo is supplied as a wearable armband that fits over the user's forearm and lets them control a computer or computer-controlled device wirelessly by hand and arm movements alone by reading electrical signals produced in the muscles of the user's arm and cross referencing this data with a 9-axis inertial measurements unit (IMU), which includes a gyroscope, magnetometer, and accelerometer.
The Myo is powered by an on-board rechargeable lithium ion battery that utilises the ultra-low power performance of the Nordic nRF51822. In addition to the low power consumption of this chip, Thalmic Labs chose to include the Nordic nRF51822 in the Myo armband due to its competitive pricing and the high level of support that Nordic Semiconductor was able to provide during the design review process.
Potential applications include business presentations, gaming, remote control, healthcare, safe industrial machinery and automation control, and assisted-living products for the elderly or disabled.
"As a company, we're interested in how we can use technology to enhance our abilities as humans - in short, giving us 'superpowers'," explained Stephen Lake, co-founder and CEO of Thalmic Labs on the motivation behind Myo. "We're excited to see how the Myo blurs the lines between us and digital technology."
"We believe the Myo gives people a much more natural way to control technology," added Sameera Banduk, marketing director at Thalmic Labs. "And we see the future of human interface and control being wearable."
"Wearable electronics is a very active market segment and could form a major part of the way in which we interact with electronics in the future," commented Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's director of sales & marketing. "And the great thing for consumers is that wearable electronics is likely to be far more intuitive and easier to use than traditional human interface solutions."
The Myo is available to pre-order now from www.thalmic.com for shipping in 2014. Thalmic last publicly announced over 30,000 units pre-ordered in June 2013.