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Hardware Hacking Input Devices Games Build

Controlling Games and Apps Through Muscle Sensors 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the quick-somebody-patent-air-guitar-hero dept.
A team with members from Microsoft, the University of Toronto, and the University of Washington have developed an interface that uses electrodes to monitor muscle signals and translate those into commands or button presses, allowing a user to bypass a physical input device and even control a game or application while their hands are full. The video demonstration shows somebody playing Guitar Hero by making strumming motions and tapping his fingers together, a jogger changing his music without having to touch the device, and a man flexing a muscle to open the trunk of his car while he carries objects in both hands. The academic paper (PDF) is available online.
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Controlling Games and Apps Through Muscle Sensors

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  • Insensitive (Score:5, Funny)

    by kamapuaa (555446) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:26AM (#29935165) Homepage
    Slashdot readers don't have any muscles, you insensitive clod!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Have you looked at your right arm recently?

  • Sensitivity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @11:37AM (#29935229)

    This works fine for off/on states, but not graduated ones where a range of input is needed. Muscles are binary -- they are off, or on. At least, at the cellular level. But when they're put in bunches, only some are activated while others are not, which leads to a range of possible force levels. Effectively monitoring neural activity here requires a large number of sensors to accurately determine how much force is being requested and then translate that into a digital representation. As well, do not forget that in the human body, motion is comprised of two separate inputs from the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system: And while complementary, these two are not always perfectly in balance. This is why prothetic limbs have to be computer-assisted and lack fine motor control: They simply can't get a good enough input resolution.

    So yes, it'll be great for mouse clicks (binary), but I'll still own your ass in a video game in anything that uses a vector (analog).

    • by RobVB (1566105)

      So yes, it'll be great for mouse clicks (binary), but I'll still own your ass in a video game in anything that uses a vector (analog).

      But with this new technology, I can kick your ass in TetriNET while lifting weights!

    • by beckett (27524)
      anal sphincter? not sure i'd like the application of the input device though.
    • by MacJedi (173)
      No. You have some facts that are correct, individually, but you are drawing nonsensical conclusions. True, individual muscle fibers are either contracted or relaxed--on or off as you say, but surface electromyography records from far more than a single muscle fiber. So at the population level, measuring a graded response is not only possible, but typical. Furthermore, the signal recorded is roughly linear and proportional to the number of fibers and motor units recruited (let's ignore the differences betwe
  • so how long until the computer is a box on the hip/back/wherever, and the IO is a pair of semi-transparent oleds (see recent samsung and lg product demos) glasses and this worn up the sleeve somewhere?

    • so how long until the computer is a box on the hip/back/wherever, and the IO is a pair of semi-transparent oleds (see recent samsung and lg product demos) glasses and this worn up the sleeve somewhere?

      Not with this technology, It seems fine for little things like the examples but not for anything major. Imagine writing an email with muscle movements (or doing the hokey-Cokey as is will appear)

      • by hitmark (640295) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @12:52PM (#29935711) Journal

        i did a bit of math ones, as i considered doing a input glove using pressure sensors on fingertips.

        what i found that 2 to 4 finger combos should cover the keys of your average keyboard.

        that is, pressing between 2 and 4 fingers in sequence, before releasing one or more could act as a single key input.

        and this muscle sensor system could work the same way, as the thumb against other finger system could just as easy be replaced with a system where you have a rest state, and then a added strain state where the muscle controlling the finger is being tensed.

        i suspect that with training, a person could type out messages while gripping some object, simply by tensing the finger muscles in specific sequences, just like touch typing today, or for that matter playing a piano...

        • Actually, I thought that you could create a + sign of keys for each finger. Which is essentially how it works for a keyboard, but there's more diagonals. Basically, each finger has five positions, up, down, left, right, and center/"home row". That allows you to type everything but 'z' with just quick flicks of your fingers in a variety of directions. Since writing is a linear means of information storage (you can only enter one character at a time, no matter how fast you can type, or otherwise it loses its

  • Like the wii, touchpads, motion tracking and countless other control methods, this one fails to address a key issue: I don't bloody want to move my hands other than to type.

    • by Abstrackt (609015)

      Like the wii, touchpads, motion tracking and countless other control methods, this one fails to address a key issue: I don't bloody want to move my hands other than to type.

      Looking at Wii sales I think it's safe to assume that there are people who do want this technology.

      • by Zakabog (603757)
        The Wii sells because it's cheap and the games are fun... well, fun for a little while. My Wii is currently sitting in my closet, haven't played it in a bit and I haven't wanted to. The controls didn't sell the system and there are some games where they really are annoying to use. I also have an XBox 360 and a PS3 that I play far more often, and if the Wii games I have were available on either one of those systems then I probably wouldn't have any games for the Wii.
        • My concern with the Wii, as a gamer, has always been about the lack of quality. So many of even the PS3/xbox games are becoming 'rhythm games'. Which is code for button-mashing nonsense. In the PS3's motion controller, there's already games like Godfather (&2) where you have to fling the controller through space, while holding buttons, to get it to do something.

          All of these gimmicks, all of these excuses to skimp on game development, graphics, story, take away from games. The Wii's 'goal' is to sell gam

  • One of these days, I'll stop opening my trunk every time I type something
  • will be changed forever.
  • If this catches on I can retire my slimjim and lock picks and just get a tazer for all my wretched car-thieving ways.
  • Sounds like the ideal input device for something like this [foxnews.com]!
  • What is funny is Atari did this back in 1984 with their "Mindlink" headband controller: http://www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/consoles/2600/mindlink.html [atarimuseum.com] It was quite good, too bad the company switched gears to primarily computers at the time and didn't go forward with the controllers. Its amazing how people forget about stuff that was invented decaded ago and announce them today as if they just discovered the wheel for the first time. Then you have the exact opposite - you have older technologies that
  • EMG sensors have been around forever; why would you want to attach them to healthy people? If you attach them to a functional muscle, you end up overloading functional signals in a way that's going to cause problems sometimes.

  • This is some pretty cool looking stuff! The person talking in the video sounds kind of like Johnny Chun Lee (the guy that did the Wii Remote whiteboard & head tracking projects before Microsoft employed him), is he involved in this at all?

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