Microsoft patents muscle-control tech

Dual USPTO filings show Xbox 360 maker is looking into wearable controllers activated by muscles' electrical signals; Guitar Hero shown in demo video.

Although Project Natal likely won't be released until later in the year, Microsoft is already looking into new gaming control schemes. Tech blog TechFlash has spotted two US Patent and Trademark Office applications that may go one step further than the controller-less, camera-based motion-sensing system--by directly reading electric impulses from gamers' muscles.

Next stop: Air Guitar Hero.

Both patent filings are based on electromyography (EMG), which is the practice of reading the electrical signals sent out by a person's muscles via electrodes. One patent application, filed in March 2009, describes "wearable electromyography-based controllers for human-computer interface" that could be "implemented as an armband, a wristwatch, eyeglasses, an article of clothing worn by the user (such as a shirt, gloves, shoes, pants, headband, etc." Another application, filed in June 2008, is for a similar EMG array for the forearm only.

While the EMG patents' game applications might sound theoretical, Microsoft has actually posted a video of the technology in action on YouTube. After briefly showing how forearm-mounted electrodes can read muscle activity in fingertips, the demonstrator then plays what appears to be Guitar Hero II without a controller, air guitar style. He then rolls back his sleeve to show the color-coded EMG sensors, which are presumably part of a prototype unit.

According to the video, the technology is being jointly developed by Microsoft, the University of Washington, and the University of Toronto.

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Discussion

284 comments
grnsuperman4
grnsuperman4

Exactly what "muscles" can this thing sense?............. Oh the possibilities.......oh...oh.....oh

MagicOneUp
MagicOneUp

now this is scary... i enjoys my 360 and porn, i don't think this device is for me....

MatzeEdend
MatzeEdend

This looks all right... at least its a better idea than that guy who replaced rumble technology with electrodes taped to your body... I REALLY do not want to see Air Guitar Hero though...

Vegeta-sama
Vegeta-sama

Johnny Lee is the one who did the 3D Wii hack

lindallison
lindallison

hoo-boy and I thought it was tough keeping my two NES controller cords untangled. I pity the the children of the future.

Raventhorn
Raventhorn

Just another way for Skynet to convert us into terminators! ;)

Dmitheon
Dmitheon

Interesting, but I'm more interested in seeing this technology applied to prosthetics.

ebookerd1
ebookerd1

That is pretty freaking Awsome!! It may have you looking like a weirdo and may cause some issues in when doing certain things..... YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!!!! Cooking!

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

@tig1979, I think its more likely that when (and if) this makes it into the public domain, it will more likely be in the form of a wrist band type device.

player_leo
player_leo

The future is Sonys motion controller, now thats new advanced technology. JK Being developed by Microsoft, the University of Washington, and the University of Toronto, that sounds pretty cool.

kamizuka
kamizuka

yeah WTF happened to natal???

tig1979
tig1979

Although a good idea, i dunno if i could arsed spending 3 hours getting ready to play a game, if it came as a top or something you just put on fair enough, but putting all those pads everywhere would be too mch of a hassle

Petch1984
Petch1984

If the games are half as exciting as that video....

RadicalToenail
RadicalToenail

I "modded" a Wiimote and Nunchuck to worse kind of like that. Turned it into a glove that kicked serious a$$. At the time I had no camera of any kind (It was also only good for games like RE4 and Metroid Prime) and then ended up selling my Wii and all peripherals to save my cat from dying (Had no money).

joksterz78
joksterz78

Ugh, I'll stick with my TV thank you very much, I don't want to relive the virtual boy days.

agpickle
agpickle

One step closer to Virtual Reality...

Petercairns
Petercairns

Wii FOR LIFE..LOL..what am i saying...

Trogeton
Trogeton

whoa that would make some games SOO much easier

bagrm
bagrm

Yeah I can see that for sure. I just meant that they need to advance the technology, more specifically the way the sensors attach, before this really means anything since no one is going to want to set up all of those sensors on their arm just to play Rock Band without a controller.

AncientDozer
AncientDozer

Bagrm. Probably in the beginning, yeah, but if the technology takes hold and advances, I'm sure five year olds will be operating this sort of thing no prob.

Ramirez9x
Ramirez9x

Wow. Anyone else watch that youtube video and think of the film Johnny Nemonic? Who knows, mebby this is the first step down the road of a control system for some kind of cyberspace...

y2kern
y2kern

nice technology i hope they used this technology to make mechs , i want a battle suit

Spybreak
Spybreak

I can see it now, tea bagging in the future. lol

Kevu
Kevu

Sounds like a neat tech, even if I doubt it will be usable/perfected by the time Quetzalcoatl rolls around, bringin the end of the world and all. I wonder what would happen when you sneeze or have muscle twitches. Calibration will take on all new challenges, haha. Oh my, more I think about it, the neater it would be, but the less practical it is.

bagrm
bagrm

Cool proof of concept. Problem is that all of those sensors probably need to be placed at exact locations on the arm so they can read the correct muscle tension to determine which finger moved. I think we wont see something like this for a while, and it seems to be better suited for an application besides games.

TripSe7en
TripSe7en

A good backbone for future innovators, however I don't see this coming around until the next decade when graphics have topped out and companies look towards creating a more submersive experience than what we now know as controllers.

AyKay_47
AyKay_47

So who else noticed that he's not actually controlling the guitar hero stuff on screen? You can clearly see that around 1:06, the red button is lit up while he's still pressing what should be the green. Discuss

Jak_Napier
Jak_Napier

i dunno about this one Microsoft.

MattyVonP
MattyVonP

Interesting, maybe this could work with natal... but I think we're a ways off from all of this. Nonetheless, a step in the right direction I suppose.

kakotan
kakotan

{quote} jadefury27 Posted Jan 5, 2010 12:53 pm PT Here's an intresting idea...Make better games. everybody's so stuck on the idea of motion control. if people need things like this to get some form of exercise then they have problems. just work on making better games people. leave the gimmicks to nintendo.{/quote} I couldnt have said it any better then this!!!

jadefury27
jadefury27

Here's an intresting idea...Make better games. everybody's so stuck on the idea of motion control. if people need things like this to get some form of exercise then they have problems. just work on making better games people. leave the gimmicks to nintendo.

MassApocalypse
MassApocalypse

So, it's a controller on your arm? What's the point, exactly?

oneligas
oneligas

what if i have no muscle from playing games all day long and i get it and it don't work for me.

Narutofan30
Narutofan30

I cant lie that SICK! I hope Microsoft will share that technology or Sony and Nintedo will have to make some better.

Spectre77
Spectre77

It blows my mind that some of you idiots are even able to turn on your computers...

sonicmask
sonicmask

Microsoft tries so hard.... While Nintendo and Sony just breathe easy and do them and still succeed better!

YoungDab
YoungDab

I rather see guitar hero become extinct real talk.

OrianaDorta
OrianaDorta

Air Guitar lol!! I'm sorry. I rather play with my regular controllers.

StevenKreg
StevenKreg

Wow... for the nerds complaining. Why the heck do you always whine and complain every time a company pushes tech foward? You sound like a bunch of old men in the 70's complaining about those damn fangled computers.

abbnormmal
abbnormmal

They are not getting lazier about finding ridiculous way to play games.

xbox_psp
xbox_psp

People are getting lazier and lazier...

goncalo47
goncalo47

I don't think you nerds are getting this. They aren't patenting this to replace the controller, it has a million uses and COULD be used for gaming. Microsoft isn't a gaming only company.

snakes3425
snakes3425

what next, a way to control your Xbox with your mind, and being able to telepathically threaten it if it even thinks about giving you the Red Ring of Death

jazilla
jazilla

can you just hook my mind into a machine please and let the machine control me?

sartnd
sartnd

Operating system that fail to operate...

wexorian
wexorian

TripSe7en good one nicee :PPP

I_Pwn_U_n00bs
I_Pwn_U_n00bs

I did not understand a word the guy in the video said :D

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

this looks really, really cool. If it could make it on time on par with Natal it would make it considerably better. But I hope the final gadget will be less cumbersome.

jjdomo
jjdomo

can you imagine the implications this will have on the porn industry?