MyoWare – Arduino Compatible Wearable Muscle Sensor Platform
Do you want to build an iron man suit? or control stuff around you with your hand movement like the one in Minority Report movie? Or maybe you just want to build myoelectric prosthetic arms to help specially-abled children across the globe. I wanted to do all that. I was once a Biomedical engineering student whose dream was always to build awesome gadgets which can be attached to your body like a Mi Band or Pebble Watch. Well, at that time I had to write a letter to the dean to get my 8051 programmed. Yes, I am talking about the time when there was no Raspberry or Arduino, and IoT was still a dream.
Electronic and embedded systems have advanced so much that it becomes extremely easy to build cool electronic products very fast and easily. Today, I am going to give you a quick introduction to a sensor platform which can help you build any electronic DIY project which involves measuring and acting on muscular signals.
In 2011, Brian Kaminski released his first do-it-yourself tutorial on how to build a EMG / Muscle Sensor on instructable and he would have never expected that his work would grow from a personal passion into a successful business. Advancer Technologies, the company founded by Brain, had built and sold more than 5000 MyoWare sensors across the globe and have launched 4 version of the MyoWare sensor platform.
Brain’s story is like any other college student who wants to build something and cloud get it right due to lack of support. But Brain did not give up and took it to another level. When he was still at his college. For his senior design project, his team set out to build a myoelectric rehabilitation glove. However, they soon found that you either had to purchase a $1,000+ medical-grade system or design and build an EMG sensor from the ground up. Frustrated and short on time, the team had to abandon the myoelectric part of the project.
Luckily, Brian’s passion for myoelectric technology continued to grow through graduate school and after graduation, Brian designed and built his own sensor for one of his pet projects. With the frustration of his senior project still lingering in his mind, Brian decided to share the fruit of his labor to prevent others from having to “reinvent the wheel”. Brian published his circuit design online and even wrote a step-by-step tutorial on how to build the open-source circuit. In 2010, Brian decided to take his effort to bring myoelectric technology to the world one step further by founding Advancer Technologies and started selling assembled circuit boards of his sensor.
What is MyoWare and How does it Work?
MyoWare is an Arduino compatible open source sensor platform which measures muscle activity through the electric potential of the muscle, commonly referred to as electromyography (or EMG for short). When we want to lift our hand, our brain sends a signal to motor neurons to start recruiting motor units to lift our hand. The harder we flex, the more motor units are recruited to generate greater muscle force. The greater the number of motor units, the more the electrical activity of your muscle increases.
The MyoWare will analyze this electrical activity and output an analog signal that represents how hard the muscle is being flexed. There is a main board which allows you to connect sensor pads directly to it. This board also includes a single-supply voltage of +3.1V to +5V, RAW EMG output, polarity protected power pins, indicator LEDs, and (finally) an On/Off switch. Sparkfun has developed various addon like (Cable, Power, and Proto) that can be attached to the Myoware Muscle Sensor to help increase its versatility and functionality!
If you want to get started with building some cool DIY with MyoWare, I would recommend that you get a complete kit which is made and sold by SparkFun.
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