Microsoft Patents Muscle-Control

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Microsoft has patented a new input method that would see the user/wearer attach a sensor to their forearm rather than controlling via a keyboard and mouse.

The sensors themselves use electromyography (EMG) to detect the movement of muscles under the skin, and so to utilise that movement as a control input. It’s a relatively simple concept, but in practice it’s seldom done. If nothing else, it’s nice to see more interesting things coming from Microsoft Research after the multi-touch mouse concepts it released last year. It’s also worth noting that Microsoft is showing off the concept with some fairly wide applications.

According to Microsoft Research’s own page on the project, the sensor arrangement already boasts “four-finger classification accuracies averaging 79% for pinching, 85% while holding a travel mug, and 88% when carrying a weighted bag. We further show generalizability across different arm postures and explore the tradeoffs of providing real-time visual feedback.”

Air Guitar Hero, calling it now 😉

If nothing else, it’s an incredibly interesting concept, and one we’re very curious indeed to see the eventual results. It seems as though setups like this might end up being the future of motion sensitive controllers as we know them for consoles today… for use in an age when actually moving to control a games console could end up seeming too much like hard work.

It’s also worth noting that they’re not breaking the bank with the rig either, apparently the team was able to get solid results demonstrating “accurate gesture classification with an off-the-shelf electromyography device. Specifically, using 10 sensors worn in a narrow band around the upper forearm.” We’ll be curious to see just if, and when, we start to see anything like this made available commercially.

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