When the MYO was first announced by Thalmic Labs, excitement was rampant at the impact their tiny little device would have on the consumer electronics industry. The MYO promised gesture control using muscle response signals in order to turn your lights off or adjust your thermostat. Now that we’ve finally been able to get your hands on MYO and review it, how does it stack up? Find out in the full review after the break!
Hats off to Thalmic Labs for making one of the most aesthetically pleasing packages since Jawbone or Apple. Everything was tidy and in its place, allowing us to know exactly what to do to use our MYO Gesture Control Armband. Included with the MYO is a bluetooth dongle (you have to use this in order to connect the MYO to your Mac/PC). You also get a micro-USB cable to charge and connect your MYO. Once charged up we thought we were off to playing video games with our hands, and changing NEST temperature settings from the couch however it sadly wasn’t as easy as we thought.
We first had to connect our MYO to our Macbook Pro Retina for first time including install and calibration. However, we ran into several errors while trying to connect and sync our MYO. Turns out after multiple troubleshooting attempts, our unit needed a complete firmware wipe and refresh. We downloaded the latest firmware drivers and flashed our device. Once that happened we fixed our connection issues.
Calibration was a relatively easy task incorporating various hand gestures to sync muscle response and also record what those muscle movements created from a signal standpoint. A balled up fist, a wide open hand, waving to the left and waving to the right were among the various hand gestures that MYO needed to create a muscle profile. The attempts at recording these were less then stellar using the MYO. Our first few attempts got false recordings that mixed resting gestures with activated ones (like wide open hand or balled up fist). After we created multiple profiles we finally got one that would register correctly our various hand movements. Off to the races now you would think right? Sadly, we had another door slam shut on our face during the next phase which was real world app testing. We tried something simple at first like iTunes. MYO gestures were limited on the app to pause, play, fast forward and rewind. These worked relatively ok at first but the problem came during times we didn’t want gestures triggered. MYO is supposed to go into a standby state relatively quickly preventing misfires. The MYO standby feature sadly did not perform very well for us. We had random plays and fast forwards while our hand was resting or performing tasks which were not meant to trigger anything.
Most of the standard apps are supported like iTunes, but if you want additional support you can go to their version of an App Store and download applications to interact with other things like Netflix etc. The problem with this is the store is VERY limited in what it offers. If you were hoping for a one size fits all application that would allow you to become a JEDI in your house, the MYO will not be it.
From a comfort perspective, the MYO was relatively comfortable allowing for a snug fit on your forearm for hours on end. We really only experienced discomfort after almost 8 hours of wearing the device in one day. Depending on your forearm size, you can adjust the fit with the included clips Thalmic Labs includes with the MYO.
Battery life was also decent as MYO’s boasted “all day use” was relatively accurate. We would have liked an inductive or mat charging method instead of a plug in charging one.
Overall, our experience with the Thalmic Labs MYO Gesture Control Armband was very mixed. Initial setup was frustrating and the gestures were not useful in everyday testing as we had misfires and gesture lapses throughout testing. Thalmic Labs has the battery life and comfort at a point where it’s ready for the consumer market but the user friendliness and actual performance is no where near acceptable yet. The MYO Gesture Control is a great toy for the tinkerer or early adopter that’s willing to tolerate frustration, but it’s not ready for you to become a gesture JEDI in your SMART connected home and daily life.