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back to article Microsoft's muscle-interface patent gets under your skin

Microsoft boffins have applied for patents that could let you control computer-based devices using electronic impulses from your muscles rather than fiddling with your fingers. The company's research division has devised what it called a "Wearable Electromyography-Based Controller" that reads and understands electrical signals …

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A patent for something that has already been done?

A professor Warwick did this in 1998. How can Microsoft apply for a patent on this? Full article here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/professor-has-worlds-first-silicon-chip-implant-1174101.html

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Warwick is not a professor

And IIRC he didn't patent anything, he just had a chip slid under his skin.

The chip, it was rumored, could authorize the opening of a door or somesuch.

In other words, it was an RFID tag.

We're a long way from a patent.

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Err...

He has been professor of Cybernetics at Reading Uni since something like 1987. He did have a chip implanted in his arm which was RFID, this was the initial part of several experiments. There have been experiments that have interfaced directly with his brain, which is a long way off RFID.

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Stop

What about Neuroprostheses?

So this patent will wipe out any existing prior art which uses EMG related signal processing to trigger external events e.g. for neuroprostheses; bionic arms; prosthetics and orthosis... all in the good name of Microsoft?

Yeah. Well done to Microsoft for spotting things done in medical research for a very long time.

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Paris Hilton

Call it what it is.

Dildotronics.

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A little on the early side.

Seems similar to technology used to noninvasively read brain activity for control purposes. The fact Microsoft already took out patents make it clear they want to beat Apple (who's pretty much got multitouch controls down pat) to the punch on what's possibly the Next Big Thing (not saying it is or isn't--just that it's possible). Just another salvo in the ongoing hot-and-cold war between Microsoft and Apple. Watch it play out if you wish.

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Gates Horns

Clenched Fist

The only lower-arm gesture Microsoft software needs to be able to recognise is a clenched fist, or possibly the action of one tearing ones hair out.

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Coat

New shut down control

Read ... arm extended with hand approximately at shoulder height ... back of hand facing screen. All fingers and thumb clenched except the middle finger, which remains extended in an upwards direction.

This is to be taken as a signal command to shut down and power off.

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Prior art

The basics here have been available commercially since the early 80's - look at http://www.utaharm.com - a prosthetic arm controlled in exactly the same way that they describe using a pair of EMG preamplifiers. The EMG amps themselves are available off the shelf at places like http://www.motion-labs.com if they'd done a bing search...

http://www.bing.com/search?q=emg+preamplifier&go=&form=QBLH

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Joke

Bonus points

Bonus points for using bing as your reference... thus 'proving' ms knew about the prior art!

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Anonymous Coward

The patents are fairly specific

In that they refer to a method of allowing the user to stick something arbitrarily on his arm, rather than having to carefully tape on sensors in the optimal locations. One of the patents is basically on technology to then have the machine advise him how to move it around to work better, and the other is using this rather fuzzy feedback from arbitrarily placed sensors to identify actual gestures and use those to control the machine.

Sounds like they've solved a pretty hard problem in the area by making the basic research into a usable consumer product, and want to patent that. Fair enough - I had the idea of doing it years ago, but I don't have time or skills to do this sort of development myself, so I welcome companies coming in and doing it for me, and I figure they deserve some reward for that.

I assume apple just plain never thought of it, though if they had developed it it would probably cost an arm *and a leg*, and you would only be able to control things with one finger.

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Prior art etc

Does this mean anyone else who wants to have gesture controling (without touching a hardware interface) using a wristband for instance then they won't be able to do it or does it mean they would need to find an alternative design to microsofts solution? Surely this is just a design patent not a concept patent.

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Pirate

future uses

could include delivering a nasty shock to the user if the controller determines he is trying to input UNIX commands.

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Gates Horns

Prior art?

I find this story exciting, baffeling and scary in equal measure - here is why:

Exciting:

This type of stuff really offers a glimpse of the next 7 year cycle of major change (along with pervasive (or invasive!) advetising, AR and some other stuff) that is kind of due this year - i'll explain further; 1995 - 2003 web 0.1, 2003 - 2010 web 2.0 (I could give many more examples but for the sake of getting to the point I won't). Minority Report living is just around the corner.

Baffeling:

From my understanding of patents which is greater then your average person but by no means expert surely there is heaps of 'prior art' on these types patents meaning that Microsoft will just be applying for design patents and it will not block others from making such things? This is my question - can anyone answer this question for me??

Scary:

About 9 years ago I 'invented' a concept called PublikView which if you were to look at the blueprints/ mock-ups and business plan I did you would most likely notice (as many have) that my idea was very similar to MySpace and Facebook (Features, UI, Brand etc etc) - so to sum up: I thought of it first! (yes I do cry myself to sleep every night) - anyway I'm not here to talk about the fish that got away so I will continue... when I was trying to get investment for the concept at the time I would tell investors (and anyone that would listen for that matter) that big change happened in 7 year cycles and the next big one was due and it was going to be something that later got coined as web 2.0. At the time these people (especially my mum!) would say "don't worry if you miss this one you can invent stuff for the next big change" and I would say back " I don't want any part of that stuff because it will be about embedding chips into peoples heads etc" I still sort of feal the same way now however I have matured a bit now and I can see the huge benifits of such technolgy (especially for the disabled) but there is still a small part of it I just find scary... thoughts?

Thanks for reading my massive essay which just started out as me wanting to know if these patents will stop other people/companys developing such important computer human interfaces - didn't Palo Alto own the patents to the mouse but other companys made mouses??

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Contd...

Does this mean anyone else who wants to make a wristband for instance that controls things won't be able to do it now???

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Last comment/ question I promise..

Surely Nintendo won't have been so stupid as to have not thought of this - especially the Air guitar thing!!!!

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Nice

This is interesting - reminds me of the NES "Power Glove" accessory I had when I was a kid!

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