Fun with the Myo gesture controller
Myo is a wireless armband that uses electromyography to detect and recognize hand gestures. When paired with a computer or smartphone, gestures can be used to trigger various application-specific functions.
When their marketing video made the rounds in 2013, I remember one specific demo made my jaw drop: touch-free video control. The video shows a man watching a cooking instructional video while cutting some raw meat. Being able to pause and rewind the video simply by raising his hand was a solution to an interaction problem I’ve had countless times, such as listening to podcasts while doing chores, or watching videos while eating a sandwich.
I ordered a Myo back in March 2013 and deferred shipment until their consumer design was ready. It was a nice surprise to return home from holiday travels to find a Myo waiting for me. :)
Unfortunately there is no official Linux support yet (though there’s a proof of concept from a hackathon). On Windows and OSX, there’s a pretty elegant Lua scripting environment in the SDK which is used to write “connector” integrations. Lua scripts are selected based on the currently active app to trigger mouse/keyboard actions from gestures. This is a neat approach. It enables developers and tinkerers to do a bunch of the legwork writing and designing integrations, while wrapping the complex parts (gesture recognition / mouse control / keyboard automation) in a cross-platform manner.
I was happy to see some web browser integration already built, but upon further inspection there were a few different behaviors which would be more to my liking. I was delighted to discover that I could simply open up the web browser connector and hack the high-level Lua code into the controls I wanted. I added a gesture to take control of the mouse, as well as some special cases for controlling video playback.
While the gesture recognition doesn’t always work perfectly (probably a matter of training both myself and the armband better), when everything works properly, the results are pretty sublime:
I’ll be posting my scripts and future tinkerings in a myo-scripts repo on GitHub.