Microsoft tech to control computers with a flex of a finger

July 31, 2012

(Credit: Microsoft)

In the future, Microsoft apparently believes, people may simply twitch their fingers or arms to control a computer, game console or mobile device, ReadWriteWeb reports.

Microsoft applied for a patent on electromyography (EMG) controlled computing on Thursday, suggesting that a future smart wristwatch or armband might simply detect a user’s muscle movements and interpret them as gestures or commands.

The “Wearable Electromyography-Based Controller” could also use a network of small sensors attached to the body, all communicating wirelessly with a central hub.

Microsoft also showed off a prototype of an EMG controller in 2010, and has filed complementary EMG controller patents as well as a patent covering the gestures used to control them.

But EMG-based computing does imply several interesting possibilities: the ability to type without a keyboard; wiggling a finger, rather than an arm, to provide fine-grained Kinect controls; or new ways to control “waldos” and other robotic appendages. Microsoft even suggests that a glove-based version of the EMG controller might be used to automatically translate American Sign Language into written or spoken English or other languages. That’s pretty cool.

Microsoft’s patent application claims that an EMG sensor is a “universal” method of controlling any computing device, such as a television or light sensor. That may be true, although something like voice commands could also control just about anything. However, it does offer some sneaky, secret-agent possibilities: