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.
This post is a part of a series featuring members of our developer community. Stay tuned to our developer blog for more featured developers and other news about developing for the Myo armband!
Joseph Evans’ Myo experience started when he found the Myo pre-order campaign early on and was beginning his journey into the world of wearables as a Google Glass Explorer. He is a techno-archaeologist, digital anthropologist, and an academic Google Glass Explorer at the University of South Florida. Because of his unique needs and demands on Glass as a techno-archaeologist, he saw the Myo armband as a way to get around Glass’ limitations and ultimately control it without touching (or talking to) it.
Back when Joseph first received a Myo Alpha unit, he started a thread on the alpha developer forums called “Myo + Google Glass Progress” which became one of the go-to threads for discussing overall progress. Early on it was difficult to connect the two, but after the team chipped in with a handy companion example, everything was up and running. There are now a number of other public threads/resources for Myo + Google Glass developers, including the Google Glass + Myo forum thread and the official MyoGlassService Android SDK sample. We recently got the chance to connect with Joseph and asked him a few questions about his experience with Myo and why he’s excited about the Myo armband.
How is your role different than that of a typical Archaeologist?
I’m a new type of archaeologist trained for the digital-era and beyond: a technoarchaeologist. Think one part Indiana Jones mixed with one part Tony Stark and you’ll be on the right track. I specialize in using different digital technologies to document, record, analyze, and interpret human activities from the past to the present through material cultural remains of their stuff, focusing on anything that is non-destructive, non-invasive, and non-contact: we only have one archaeological record and we have to take care of it! I use so many different devices in the field I needed something that would allow me to control EVERYTHING while also allowing me to keep my hands dirty and free: enter Myo!
How does the Myo armband help Archaeologists?
The unfortunate reality is that our past is disappearing at an alarming rate and we have little to record of it. The truth about archaeology is that until recently it was a destructive science, meaning that we had to destroy part of what we study in order to understand a little more about the people who made it. I was horrified to learn that archaeologists themselves were in a way one of the largest threats to archaeology. Traditional archaeologists, or those trained in methods or techniques that emphasize destructive testing or contact approaches, have wrought irreversible harm in their pursuits of knowledge, but there had to be a better way!
My research into new approaches to digitally documenting the decaying ruins of our past in ways that emphasize non-destructive, non-contact, and non-invasive (if possible) methods and technology brought me to Myo because I see the device as the center of my digital ecosystem. It is the way in which I can fire a 3D laser scanner while holding a priceless golden idol, or take a measurement while I manipulate the 3D model I just captured. Plenty of technology had existed to visualize insane amounts of data and information, but almost nothing, save Myo, existed to manipulate it.
What did you make with the Myo armband?
Throughout my Myo development experience I discovered that my particular strength rests not with heavy software development, but instead with heavy (often aggressive/hostile) field-testing of the wonderful creations of others, reinventing what I’ve needed along the way in a style reminiscent to the way Armin Van Buuren is using Myo. I’m trained to see patterns and analyze complex systems as an archaeologist, a skill I think is useful to developers.
My goal with Myo from the outset was to utilize the armband as a control for my various wearable devices—primarily Google Glass, which I’ve accomplished by testing and using Thalmic’s original Glass Companion app (and recently the Glass sample app from the Android SDK) in the field on a National Park Service documentation project. My currently goals and projects involve using Myo in my classroom as I use it to control an interactive content management and presentation software from Promethean known as Classflow.
You were a member of the Myo alpha program. How was that experience?
Wearable technology is a completely new way of perceiving digital data and information in the world around us, so given that no other analog exists to compare it with, I must admit that it was an easy experience. There were hiccups during alpha-phase on my project, but I was putting Myo through places and instances far outside where it was meant to be used. I am and will forever be an explorer who pushes everything to the boundaries, Myo included. A key component to my integration experience was the social aspect: be it Thalmic staff or other alpha/beta testers, there is a thriving community of extremely passionate developers who are absolute geniuses unknowingly creating the tools that I am unable to make; developers who have even gone so far as to help me to configure their tools to even better suit my needs.
The integration and experience with the new version of Myo and has been amazing because the development staff took the suggestions of myself and other “more extreme users” and changed the form-factor to be one that’s completely enclosed. No more mud inside my Myo.
Why are you excited about the future with the Myo armband?
I’m excited about the future with Myo because Myo is the future; it is how people will interact with technology and information in the world around us. As is the case with humans and technology the advances we make to change our world change us (hopefully).
I’m excited about the future with Myo because it means freedom for me in the sense that I can move and control my technology whenever and wherever I want through natural gestures; I can have my (dirty) hands back. This might seem like a trivial concern for some, but for me and many of the others who control very precise and expensive technology on a daily basis not having to dirty my tech or constantly clean my hands before I touch it means I save a LOT of time as an archaeologist. I can stay in the now and keep making those discoveries.
As an archaeologist, I’m essentially a scientist that studies the history of technology. If you think about it, technology is one of the most important factors we consider for species; it’s one of the things that make us human. We think of new technology, we make it, we use it, and it changes us, then we start the process all over again. Myo and gesture-based controls for technology and other wearable technology is a huge stepping stone for humanity and one I’m excited to study.
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