Researchers use Myo muscle-sensing wearable for prosthetics

The armband is being used to control a prosthetic arm by researchers at Johns Hopkins.

Controlling Call of Duty or flying a drone isn't all the Myo armband can do. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are employing the muscle-sensing wearable for a different application: prosthetics. With two of the gadgets, a patient is able control a prosthetic arm when he thinks about it. The pair of Myo bands on the upper arm read the electric impulses from muscle movement and wirelessly transmit them to a nearby computer. That computer determines what movement he is trying to make and tells the prosthetic arm to complete the task.

"The APL (Applied Physics Lab) arm is the most unique arm I've ever worn," said Johnny Matheny, a man who lost part of his arm to cancer. "It has the ability to do anything that your natural hand, wrist or shoulder can do."

Sure, it's not an ideal setup needing to have that computer controller nearby, but it does show potential uses for a low-cost consumer device. Not only is the Myo band available for $200, but the wearable allows for a more comfortable fit. More specifically, it's way less evasive since there's no need to implant electrodes for the prosthesis to work. Thalmic Labs, the company behind the Myo device, already released an SDK so that scientists, engineers and others can use gadget as they see fit.