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.

3 minute read

Meet the Man With a Myo-Controlled Robotic Arm

Meet the Man With a Myo-Controlled Robotic Arm

When we started Thalmic Labs in 2012, our goal was simple: to give humans superpowers. With our first product, the Myo armband, we wanted to push technology forward. We invited third-party developers from around the world to make their dreams a reality with Myo, giving them access to SDKs and raw data to bring applications to life. To us, the Myo armband was our first step down a long path in the direction of changing the future of computing.

We had dreams of the impact that Myo could have in the world of prosthetics, but were unaware that anyone was turning these dreams into reality. Unbeknownst to us, the team at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory was using the technology which we invented here at Thalmic Labs to fundamentally advance human interaction with prosthetics.

In 2005, Johnny Matheny was diagnosed with cancer in his left forearm and by 2008, doctors had to amputate his arm past his elbow. At The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Johnny has been working with a prosthetic arm attached directly to his skeleton, and uses two Myo armbands on his upper arm to detect the electrical activity of his muscles. Thanks to Myo, when Johnny thinks about moving his prosthetic hand, he is able to do it. The Myo armband has electromyography (EMG) sensors that directly sense muscle activity and motion, allowing it to read the activity of Johnny’s muscles in a refined way.

Research in prosthetics with Myo still has a long way to go, but if we are able to directly turn thoughts into actions, the future of human-computer interaction can achieve a new reality. While each person's arm and mind may be different, this is an incredible example of how developers around the world have transformed lives using the Myo armband.

Building Myo over the last 3 years has been absolutely mind-blowing, and developers like those at Johns Hopkins have imagined possibilities far beyond our wildest dreams. Johnny’s story is just the beginning of how developers are giving humans superpowers with Myo. From developing life saving data, to using Myo in live surgery, the doors are open to endless possibilities in the future of healthcare and beyond.

Whatever your favorite use of the Myo armband may be, from flying drones to watching Armin van Buuren control his lights on stage, Myo gives you powers that you never knew you could have.

We’re so excited to see more and more developers get out there and help change the world with Myo. These are the people who can bring stories like Johnny’s to life, and change the way we interact with technology forever.

Watch the full video of Johnny using the Myo armband here.

You've successfully subscribed to The Lab!