In November, we said that an SDK was coming with a stream of raw EMG data from each of the eight sensor pods in the Myo armband. Today, it’s live on our downloads page for developers to use. This means that the Myo armband now performs the same function as a $10,000 desktop machine in a $199 device.
We expect people will start prototyping new things with this data, but we have absolutely no idea what. Developers have said they’d like to experiment with prosthetics; they’re working on applications that can measure muscle fatigue, hydration, and sleep states; some are discovering what’s unique about EMG data, seeing if it’s distinct enough to verify your identity. Just a few early examples. For us, as always, the most exciting uses are the ones no one has considered.
The Myo armband is only shipping in volume now, starting just weeks ago. For context, people didn’t discover that aluminum foil is great for preserving food until two decades after it was invented. Unlike Myo, they had no use for it. They invented it because they thought a sheet of metal you could crumple and tear like paper was super cool. As the “history of aluminum” website tactfully puts it, “no predictions of future volume sales for foil have been found in marketing histories of the time.” People used it to mark the legs of racing pigeons. I couldn’t make that up if I wanted to.
Now, you’d have to look hard to find a home in the Western world that doesn’t have a roll of aluminum foil in a drawer somewhere. The full impact of a technology is almost impossible to know in the beginning, something constantly on our minds here at Thalmic Labs.
For the fellow explorers excited to see what they can do with this new tool: enjoy. We made this for you. Working with EMG is extremely difficult, a point we’ve repeated throughout the process of putting this tool in developers’ hands.
If you’re a developer, here’s how to use it: just implement the onEmgData function of DeviceListener. You’ll get an 8 element array (one for each sensor) that pulls from the device at 200Hz. What you do with that data is up to you.
We sincerely hope you’ll surprise us, and show us that we’ve been marking racing pigeons when we had tinfoil in our hands all along.