Microsoft Patents Brings Computing to your HandMicrosoft has apparently decided that computers are eventually going to have to ditch keyboards. their latest patent shows one way the that the company might go to replace them. It is an armband that can tell how you bend and flex your arm and hand, all thanks to a nifty tech called EMG.
EMG stands for ElectroMyoGraphy. A mouthful, but the idea behind it is quite simple. Muscles generate an electric current and have a electric capacitance, an ability to conduct electricity. Every time you flex your muscle, the amount of current and the capacitance changes.
So by simply monitoring the capacitance and current, you can know when a muscle is flexed and by how much. If you can refine the tech enough, you could use that to control arbitrary devices in much the same way we use fingers to press keys on a keyboard.
Redmond is imagining a future where EMG sensors are everywhere: embedded in your shirt, your sunglasses, and, of course, in a wristband to monitor your wrist and fingers. These sensors would then be used to control smart watches, PMP’s, computers, smartphones and more.
The idea is grand, but it is only one approach to the problem. Much of the existing EMG research comes out of the prosthetics community, and they have developed a number of promising alternatives. One of the most interesting is PhonoMyoGraphy, or PMG. PMG measures the sounds that a muscle and bone make when muscles contract rather than measuring current and capacitance.
This is an approach popular among DIY developers simply because it is one of the easiest to implement. Getting your hands on a mic that interfaces with a computer isn’t nearly so difficult or expensive as hooking up a volt-o-meter.