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10 unexpected uses for gesture control armbands

With devices like the Myo Gesture Control Armband available for less than $200, tinkerers and DIYers are coming up with all kinds of ways to control life with the swipe of a hand.
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By Greg Nichols, Contributor on
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Control lights and stage effects in a concert

Make a fist to turn down the volume on iTunes or wave your arms to control stage effects in front of 10,000 people like Armin Van Buuren, who recently partnered with Myo. Perfect for DJs, gesture control devices can let you manipulate songs and stage effects with the muscles in your forearm. As a MIDI controller, you'll be able to grab, twist, turn, and squeeze to adjust pitch, tone, tempo, and volume.

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Medical imaging

Letting surgeons control information in real time without touching anything was a very early idea for how to use the Myo armband. The founders of Thalmic Labs started out in the world of medical technology; their first invention was designed to provide "haptic" (touch-based) information to help blind people navigate the world.

Thalmic Labs formed a relationship early on with a medical imaging firm from Spain called TedCas. They use a Myo armband, various cameras, and voice recognition software to give surgeons total control over the information they need during an operation: it's a multi-sensor solution for operating rooms all connected to a device called the "TedCube."

Source: Thalmic Labs

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Use the force to control toys

Hands down, the coolest toy around is Sphero's BB-8. Now you can control it with the Myo armband. Use your arm to specify a direction of travel and speed. You just need to download the Myo + Sphero app for iOS. The controls are simple, hold a fist and rotate your arm to calibrate the robot until the blue light is facing you. Then, extend your hand and spread your fingers to take control!

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Bionic limbs

When we think of gesture control, we think of moving our hands. But myoelectric devices read the activity of muscles and convert it into digital signals. That makes these gesture control devices perfectly suited to enabling amputees to control bionic prostheses. Johns Hopkins has had great success combining myoelectric devices with prosthetics that are surgically attached at the site of amputation.

Source: http://www.jhuapl.edu/newscenter/pressreleases/2016/160112.asp

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Pilot drones

The BB-8 toy is cool, but wanna really feel like a Jedi? Why not make something fly through the air with the wave of a hand? Just when you thought we'd reached peak drone, here comes gesture control to enhance the flying experience. This would be a lot of fun combined with First-Person View goggles.

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The dynamic movement of our muscles allows us to dexterously manipulate noise-making objects. Gesture control takes the physical interaction between human and instrument out of the equation by reading our muscle movements directly. Hook up a myoelectric armband to a MIDI drum kit and tell mom to go get some earplugs (or just turn the volume down a bit).

Thalmic labs figured out how to play a guitar with gesture control.

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Video games (duh)

Duh. Every since Nintendo Wii popularized gesture control for gaming consoles, this has been one of the most adopted uses of the technology. With the advent of VR and AR technology, gesture control is about to get way cooler. Pretty soon Mario won't have to stay on a track ... he'll driving around your living room and throwing turtle shells at the cat.

(Incidentally, the good geeks at Thalmic have you covered on Mario Cart)

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Map your heist

You know that thing that happens in sci-fi movies with the interactive map? Whether it's the military planning an incursion or a theft crew figuring out the air duct system in a high-security building, fully controllable 3D maps are the sexiest of the sexy in visual data representation. And guess what? They exist! By combining an AR map with a gesture control device, you too can be a jewel thief. (Pro tip: don't become a jewel thief.)

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Photography

Thalmic labs recently set up a motorized tripod entirely controlled by the Myo armband. Fist controls the shutter, and waving gestures moved the camera left, right, up, and down. For photographers who set up in difficult or remote locations, having total Myo armband control of your shot would be incredibly helpful. It's a lot easier than that manual shutter button you see in old timey selfies!

Source: http://blog.thalmic.com/future-photography/

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Master personal conveyance

Personal conveyance devices seem to be making a comeback, in part thanks to hoverboards (the ones that don't explode, I mean). The beauty of gesture control devices is that they're pretty easy to hook up to any motorized device that has control inputs. Hack a Magic Board and you'll never have to push again.

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