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Microsoft Patents Muscle-Control Input Method

Microsoft Patents Muscle-Control Input Method

January 5, 2010 | By Chris Remo

January 5, 2010 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

You may soon be able to control games based purely on your muscle activity, with no need for physical or optical sensors, according to a pair of patents and a demonstration video by Microsoft.

In contrast to the motion-detecting light sensors of Microsoft's upcoming Project Natal add-on for Xbox 360, the company's muscle-control prototypes use electromyographs attached directly to the skin to read muscle positions regardless of where the user is standing, with no need for orientation towards an external sensor.

Microsoft first filed for a general patent on recognizing gestures in June 2008, then filed for a patent on wearable EMG-based controllers last March. Both patents were granted December 31, 2009.

Now, the company has posted a demonstration video on the project's official Microsoft Research website. Example applications include playing Guitar Hero without a controller, in an air guitar-like manner, and controlling a portable music player while running by contracting certain muscles.

The existing prototype consists of an array of EMGs wrapped around the user's arm, but Microsoft says it is working on a simplified version that integrates the sensors into a more easily-donned armband.

There have been no indications of when or how Microsoft hopes to bring the technology to market.

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