If you stop and think about it, the peripherals we use daily to interact with computers are clunky and unintuitive. In case you didn’t already know, I’m talking about the mouse and keyboard.
Confused? Happen to love your mouse and keyboard? Mike Astolfi, the head of interactive experiences at CTRL-Labs, explained it best during an interview with Engadget.
“When your brain wants to go and effect something in these virtual spaces, your brain has to send a signal to your muscle, which has to move your hand, which has to move the device, which has to get picked up by the system, and turned into some sort of action there.”
It may not always feel like it, but your body has a lot of work to do just to press and interact with various keys. Wouldn’t it be better if you could just plug directly into your device or computer to send electrical signals, a la The Matrix?
Sadly, the team at CTRL-Labs isn’t working on anything quite so sophisticated as a direct jack, but they do have a unique idea. They’re currently developing neural-signal-detecting wristbands—also known as an Electromyography or EMG wristband.
Use CTRL-Lab’s EMG Wristband to Control Tech with Your Muscles
Imagine typing or interacting with a computer using gestures, arm movements, and intuitive controls.
What the band or device essentially does, is measure the electrical signal being sent to your arm or hand muscles. As Astolfi describes it, it’s “the signal that your motor neurons are sending” in order to work the muscles in your body, or more specifically your arm.
The information or signal readings are sent to a remote machine learning algorithm, which analyzes and reconstructs muscle movements of the hand. In other words, the resulting system can detect your movements, whether you’re typing, gesturing, or something else.
What gestures and controls might look like while wearing the CTRL-Labs EMG wristband.
Traditionally, EEGs measure the electrical impulses in your brain or head. Sensors are attached to the scalp in order to collect readings and data. But Astolfi says that when you do this, “you deal with all the other electrical signals that your brain is putting out.”
This makes it more difficult to understand or discern what your body is meant to be doing. But by targeting the arm or a lower portion of your body, your brain has already “done all of the filtering for you” making the signals easier to detect, and by proxy more accurate.
Astolfi says the signal has a “lot larger density” and is “a lot cleaner” for detecting neuron spikes.
What Does That Mean?
With CTRL-Labs wristband you’ll essentially be controlling devices with your neuron signal spikes or brain power.
Along with more accurate readings, a cleaner signal also makes the system much easier to use. The learning curve is minimized, so the bands are more accessible to new and inexperienced users.
CTRL-Labs wristband will allow users to turn their hands into game controllers or peripherals, basically. Over time, the system will learn your movements, gestures, and actions allowing you to create your own palette of controls.
“You can do whatever you want with your arm to generate [movement],” says Astolfi. “As long as you’re consistent, then the system will learn that.”
Sadly, there’s no release date set. CTRL-Labs wants to release a dev kit sometime next year, so developers can begin crafting experiences early.
Bottom line, if Astolfi and his team are right, we’re looking at a “big leap forward in the way that you interact with machines” which may eventually lead to people avoiding “learning how to type” in the future.
Personally, I’m already making plans to come up with an action-based control scheme for my EMG wristband. I’ll be swiping invisible swords all over the place just to type out these articles for you in the future. HI-YAH!