Microsoft’s Kinect technology was a big hit and it has really changed the way how people play the games. However it is also being used for many other purposes. And if Microsoft Research continues its high-tech development, then days are not far when we will be controlling the computers solely through our muscles and body structures, together eliminating the need of controllers. This technology is being demoed and called the “Muscle-Computer Interface” that lets you control the computers through your body muscles and finger movements.
This innovative technology uses electromyography (EMG) that is fundamentally the muscular counterpart of an electroencephalography (EEG) the foundation for brain controlled computer interfaces. The EMG senses the electrical signals generated by muscle cells following the signal influx from the brain. Simply tying an armband around the muscles on your forearm will let EMG sense the gestures of your finger. This technology can also be used to control computers through special EMG optimized computer interface. Microsoft Research team is working on the same computer interface which should translate particular EMG readings into gestures that can be used to program the computer as if the gestures are peripheral controllers like keyboard and mouse.
Example of the armband with integral EMG sensors and other EMG sensor nodes:
Just in the recent few years, a patent application was submitted by the Microsoft in which it was stated that it is not necessary that only armbands can be used to integrate the EMG technology; instead it could be anything like wristwatches, clothes, glasses and other similar objects. With the integration of EMG technology, all these controllers will be powered by batteries and thus link to a wireless hub. While Microsoft also stated that multiple EMG devices can be wore at a single time.
However, with good comes bad. You will need to place the EMG device accurately on your body parts and if your body structure is different like as if you are fat or skinny it will be difficult for the device to sense the EMG readings accurately.
According to Microsoft, the EMG integrated armband will also vibrate upon the gestures. If a person uses the finger gesture to control the computer, a small amount of vibration will be formed, and if the gesture is not recognized, a heavy vibration will be felt; the duration will be short, though.
Here is the video which demonstrates the previous archetypes of Microsoft that should clear the concept of EMG powered muscle-computer interaction. In this video a man is playing a guitar in the computer with his fingers’ and hands’ gestures but that doesn’t clearly specify if it could be used to control the mouse pointer on the computer screen:
Source: Extreme Tech