North (formerly Thalmic Labs), the creator of the Myo armband, was acquired by Google in June 2020. Myo sales ended in October 2018 and Myo software, hardware and SDKs are no longer available or supported. Learn more.

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Danny Murphy's Gesture Controlled Lighting

Danny Murphy's Gesture Controlled Lighting

We first discovered Danny Murphy while he was helping people in the forums.

Another Myo user was looking for help controlling the lighting in his home with motion and gestures.

“I would love to walk out of my room, clench my fist, and have all the lights switch off as I go” they wrote. “That would be some pretty fun stuff.”

Danny’s reply caught our attention to say the least.

“If you need any help I have done exactly this at my own home. I built an application on my phone to listen to my myo and once it reads a specific gesture it sends out a request to my server. I have a Raspberry Pi set up with a hacked light switch remote and once the Raspberry Pi checks the server (within a second or 2), the lights turn off or on. I also have it set up to a security system where I have a rotating camera that can send pictures to my phone. All of this is pretty hackish but it works wonders.”

We knew we had to see this app in action, and he kindly sent us the video above. He also shared a bit about what it’s like to be a Myo hacker, starting two companies before legal drinking age, and the future of human-computer interaction. Not bad for a sophomore from the University of Cincinnati.

How’d you get started in tech?

I taught myself to think like a programmer in middle school, playing with PowerPoint macros. I made little games, like mouse-mazes, and as it grew from a hobby I made up a company called NetGlow Games to keep track of them all. By freshman year in college I had taught myself several languages and made lots of fun projects, and I knew I’d be in tech for life. I recently co-founded SolutionSmart Software, which makes MenuSmart, a platform for restaurants to share their menus on mobile apps.

What’s AutoHome?

So it’s a Myo armband, an iOS device, a Raspberry Pi, a hacked remote power adapter, and a few variations of lights. An iOS app connects to Myo and waits for specific gestures; once it sees the right gesture, it sends out a request to a server and changes a couple columns in a database. The Raspberry Pi is comparing against the same database the whole time; once it sees a change it calls a python function. In this python function, the Pi will activate the remote to turn the power adapter on or off (thanks to an awesome custom-hacked circuit dreamed up by my friend Brandon Farmer). A Pi camera is also attached to the Pi and can be activated with Myo. As soon as an intruder is detected, a picture message of the intruder is sent right to my phone.

What interests you about working with the Myo armband?

So many things, but the number one is that it’s revolutionary. There’s never been anything like it, so it has disruptive potential. The fact that you can control your computer with just your arm is remarkable. I see so many Myo applications that could benefit almost every profession. Imagine painting on your computer with your arm and not a mouse or tablet (this exists now). Or in the medical field, adjusting a patient’s bed with the turn of your arm. It’s up to us developers to make these things a reality.

Where did you get this idea?

Same place I get all my ideas: from a problem. Like most engineers and scientists I love solving problems. One day I crawled into my bed, got under my covers, and then realized the lights were still on. “I wish I could turn these lights off without getting up,” I thought, but not with a dumb clapper. The next day I did some research and saw that Myo was my solution. The AutoHome experiment had begun. The great thing about innovating, starting with a problem, is that you’re rarely suffering alone. I started with my own problem, but just think of the AutoHome applications for people with disabilities. It’s mind-boggling.

Where do you think our relationship with technology is going?

I’m very excited about the future of human-computer interaction, particularly in the professional fields. Adjusting a patient’s bed with gesture control in the medical field, capturing magnificent photography with an arm-controlled drone, etc. However, I do think that we as a human race need to make sure that technology doesn’t replace humans. There is a sense of comfort seeing a human face that technology just doesn’t match. The human touch is an incredible thing and just can’t be replaced. Elon Musk once described human beings as “the biological boot-loader for artificial superintelligence”.

He might be right, but I hope not.

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