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Microsoft files patent for muscle-based computer controls

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 6:30PM EST

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While everyone is going “ga-ga” over Apple’s dynamic tactile feedback keyboard patent, Microsoft has quietly filed a patent for several methods of controlling a computer using Electromyography (EMG). The technique would record the electrical activity of muscles and translate those signals into instruction sets which would control a computer. 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. The electrodes necessary for this EMG-driven interaction would be applied on the forearm for local control or on the head, chest, arms and legs for full body control. Though there are many practical purposes for this technology, 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. We are not alone in conjuring up this entertaining application, Microsoft’s own research labs has put together a quick demonstration video showcasing the EMG-based control of Guitar Hero. Hit the jump to preview the future of gaming.