• Apple, Microsoft "Muscling" Their Way Into New Computer Controls

    One day in the not so distant future we may look back on the present ways in which we control our computers and laugh. For now, however, it's difficult not to laugh at the prototypes for mechanisms we may soon use to control our computers. Following Apple’s "dynamic tactile feedback keyboard" patent that has generated so much talk, Microsoft is on the cutting edge of technology that could very well find its way to our Macs and PCs in the coming years.

    The Boy Genius Report is drawing attention this weekend to Microsoft's patent filing for "several methods of controlling a computer using Electromyography (EMG)." As you might expect, the technology enables muscle movement and its subsequent electrical activity to instruct our computers to execute the controls dictated by our initial movements.

    EMG technology is not new, it is used in some advanced prosthetic devices and is the technology behind the military’s research into EMG-controlled flight systems which allows a pilot to control his plane using EMG-based gestures. The Microsoft patent takes this technology and applies it to consumer devices describing, in one example, how a driver could interact with a vehicle navigation system without taking his/her hands off the steering wheel.
    Although the thought of being attached to electrodes isn't exactly profoundly enticing, such an arrangement would be required to utilize this technology. As the demo video illustrates, the "EMG-driven interaction" would mean our forearms, heads, chests, legs, etc. would all be wired for power and serve as a "full body mouse" (which is a term I coined, by the way.)

    The most exciting application would be in gaming. Think of Project Natal on steroids where you would don special gaming clothes embedded with EMG sensors and use your muscle movement to control your onscreen character.
    As cool as the technology may be, the question remains as to how practical it may be or what realistic function it could serve for basic consumer needs. But as the big boys in the tech-world (Apple, Microsoft, etc.) move in this direction, so too will the rest of us. Indeed, Apple and Microsoft are now dictating the course of consumer electronics and we are merely along for the ride.

    Image via BGR
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