When Brian Kaminski released his first do-it-yourself tutorial on how to build a EMG / Muscle Sensor in 2011, he never expected that his work would grow from a personal passion into a successful business. Now four short years later and over 5,000 sensors sold, we're extremely proud to announce our new 4th generation muscle sensor, the MyoWare.
We released our 3rd generation sensor, Muscle Sensor v3, in 2013, to an amazing reception; we sold over 3,500 Muscle Sensor v3 sensors in the last year alone and they are now carried on popular online electronics stores like Sparkfun. But even with the success we've received, we knew we still had room to improve and had a few ideas on how to make the sensor even better. So we took these ideas, mixed in some feedback from our awesome customers and built the MyoWare.
How does MyoWare work?
The MyoWare measures muscle activity through the electric potential of the muscle, commonly referred to as electromyography (or EMG for short).
When your brain tells your muscle to flex, it sends an electrical signal to your muscle to start recruiting motor units (the bundles of muscle fibers that generate the force behind your muscles).
The harder you 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.
The harder you flex, the higher the MyoWare output voltage will go.
All our muscle sensors have had this ability but we've redesigned our sensor from the ground up to make it more user-friendly and more affordable.
(If you want more info on how the MyoWare works, there is a more in-depth discussion at the bottom of this page and you can find the MyoWare datasheet/user's manual on our GitHub repository.)
- Single supply - MyoWare won't need +/- voltage power supplies! Unlike our previous sensor, it can now be plugged directly into 3.3V through 5V development boards.
- Embedded Electrode Connector - Electrodes now snap directly to MyoWare, getting rid of those pesky cables and making the MyoWare wearable!
- RAW EMG Output - A popular request from grad students, the MyoWare now has a secondary output of the RAW EMG waveform.
- Polarity Protected Power Pins - Our #1 customer request was to add some protection so the sensor chips don't burn out when the power is accidentally connected backwards.
- ON/OFF Switch - Speaking of burning out the board, we've also added an on-board power switch so you can test your power connections more easily.
- LED Indicators - We've added two on-board LEDs one to let you know when the MyoWare's power is on and the other will brighten when your muscle flexes.
Setup Is A Snap
Expanding the Possibilities
"Good artists copy; great artists steal" - Steve Jobs
With the redesign of our sensor, we decided to take a page from Arduino's playbook and incorporate the concept of "shields" into the MyoWare.
What is a shield? Shields are modular circuit boards that piggyback onto the MyoWare to enhance it with extra functionality. We plan to release four different shields during the first year after the launch of the MyoWare:
MyoWare Cable Shield
The cable shield gives the MyoWare the ability to use our more traditional cable instead of the embedded snap connectors.
Use it for non-wearable projects that are housed in an enclosure or that target muscles that are too small or situated such that the embedded snaps would not be suitable.
MyoWare Proto Shield
The Proto Shield is your typical prototype board with lots of through hole pins that are perfect for soldering any 0.100" spaced through hole components.
Use it to tinker with the MyoWare to your heart's content. It's a great way to add extra amplification for both the raw and standard outputs.
MyoWare Power Shield
The Power Shield uses two 20mm coin cell batteries to give the MyoWare all the life-giving juice (3.3V) it needs to operate.
MyoWare Mighty Meter Shield
The Mighty Meter Shield is what got us really excited about the prospect of shields. This shield takes the MyoWare output and lights up an LED bar depending on how hard you flex. The harder you flex; the more bars will light up. It even holds a 20mm coin battery so you can just stick shield+sensor assembly on your muscle and start flexing.
Use it to gauge how hard you're working a muscle during a workout, as a teaching tool, or as an amazing touch to your Halloween costume.
We have a lot of respect for the opensource community and have decided to release all our shields as opensource hardware. You'll be able to find all our files on our GitHub repository as soon as they're released.
You can find more technical info in our newly published MyoWare Data Sheet / User's Manual on our GitHub repository.
Giving A Helping Hand
We're proud to be sponsors of Limbitless Solutions and have been providing them with our muscle sensors for some time now. Limbitless Solutions is an amazing group whose mission is to build 3D-printed myoelectric prosthetic arms and donate them to children in need around the world. If you missed it, even Tony Stark has helped them fulfill their mission.
Video credit: Microsoft One Note Collective Project
We decided as part of this Kickstarter campaign to help them get more bionic arms to the children that need them. So for every 5 backers of $25 or more, we are going to donate a MyoWare sensor to them. There's also a special reward where backers can donate a sensor directly.
Brand New Tutorials!
One of our prime passions here at Advancer Technologies is to motivate and educate the next great minds and ideas by posting informative step-by-step tutorials. To celebrate the launch of the MyoWare sensor, we've created two new step-by-step tutorials.
Bionic Blaster Glove
3D Printed Bionic Claws
$30,000 - Free MyoWare Protoshield
We will include a free MyoWare Protoshield for every reward of $25 or more!
$40,000 - Double the Donations
We will donate an additional sensor (2) for every 5 backers of $25 or more!
Advancer Technologies is a company devoted to developing innovative bionic technologies and products. All of our design and development work is done in-house at our Raleigh, NC location. Additionally, all our products are 100% Lead-free.
We are also very passionate about promoting all forms of interest and learning into science and research. To help cultivate and educate the next great creative and scientific minds of tomorrow, we frequently post tutorials and easy to follow guides on how implement bionic technology in exciting applications.
Video/Photo Credit: Colby Hoke
Still want more info? ....Well why didn't you say so!
How does MyoWare work? (cont'd)
An EMG sensor measures the very tiny electrical signals generated from your muscle just like any standard voltmeter but instead of a constant voltage, these signals are waveforms (called the raw EMG signal) and look similar to audio sounds. This waveform is very useful and contains a wealth of information within it. BUT to measure how hard the muscle is flexing, you have to further process it. The MyoWare takes care of all this processing for you and outputs a voltage that represents the amount of muscle activity (also called the EMG Envelope), shown in purple above.
What makes MyoWare above and beyond?
Traditional muscle sensors output only the raw muscle sensor which requires the signal to be offset by a reference voltage (usually in the middle of the development boards* analog input range) to fit the entire signal in the positive voltage plane. However, by doing so, the resolution of the development board* is effectively cut in half.
For an Arduino, this would mean your system would be reduced to a 9-bit resolution (512 voltage levels = 2^9) instead of the full 10-bit resolution (1024 voltage levels = 2^10) of which the hardware is capable. You would be losing half the available voltage levels.
MyoWare’s novel circuitry allows you to take advantage of the full resolution of the development board* you’re using.
Why does resolution matter?
Muscle signals, like most biometrics, are analog in nature. So before we can make a muscle-controlled Rock’em Sock’em Robot, we need to convert it to a digital representation. This is usually done through an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) which can be found in the microcontroller embedded in a development board, the sound card of your computer, etc. The ADC will usually accept an input signal between a certain voltage range (e.g. 5V for Arduino) and have a resolution associated with it (e.g. 10 bit). The ADC is only able to differentiate between voltage levels in as many steps as it has resolution (e.g. Arduino 5V/2^10 = 4.8mV/level). The digital representation of the analog signal increases in accuracy as the resolution of the ADC increases.
The image above illustrates just how different the digital representation of a sine wave changes with each additional bit in resolution.
Risks and challenges
We're using this campaign to not only generate pre-orders but also to offer some pretty sweet rewards and to help a lot of kids in need. The great thing about this campaign is that we've already completed the risky portions of the design cycle and the MyoWare is ready to be shipped out the door as fast as we can manufacture them.
The MyoWare has been designed, tested, redesigned, tested, redesigned, tested.. OK OK you get the idea... we've been working on the MyoWare since we released our Muscle Sensor v3 and have gone through extensive design and prototype iterations until we got things just the way we wanted it.
We're not done yet! The MyoWare has even had all the manufacturing kinks worked out of it. We've already had a test run of boards manufactured by our PCB assembly house to make sure the sensor is ready for prime time. As always, we will be hand testing each sensor before it leaves our shop.
The biggest challenge for us could be fulfillment in a timely manner. The whole point of this campaign is to get enough orders off right out of the gate to be able to manufacture the boards in really large quantities to drive the cost down.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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