Gesto is an open source kit for gesture recognition, motion patterns and muscle analysis.
When it comes to user interfaces for today’s devices, there are two words that every tech enthusiast loves to hear: Minority Report. The concept of gesture control was made popular back in 2002 during Steven Spielberg’s film, which featured Tom Cruise’s character navigating a gestural interface with sensor-embedded gloves on a giant transparent screen. Fast forward several years and innovations like Thalmic Labs’ Myo armband are making that sci-fi-like technology a reality. With aspirations of bringing that capability to the masses, one Portuguese startup led by Maker Ricardo Santos has developed an open source board kit for gesture recognition built around an ATmega1284P MCU. Unlike other systems which require the use of cameras and calibrations, the aptly named Gesto is able to transform any part of the human body into a controller.
Once attached to the body, the AVR based system works by reading a user’s muscle activity and analyzing bio-signals in real-time. This enables a user to control a wide range of electronic devices through wave and pinch gestures, interact with computer-based applications by drawing letters, numbers and figures in thin air, not to mention turn any surface into a touch interface by simply applying finger pressure. And that’s just the arm.
Gesto is capable of recognizing movement patterns from any part of the body, such as a foot, leg or torso, and relaying these signals instantaneously. This is accomplished through the combination of EMG muscle sensors and three-axis accelerometers. Unlike other solutions on the market, this kit is not influenced by the environment nor does it require having to raise a hand in front of a camera. Instead, Gesto can be implemented in the dark, tight spaces and pretty much anywhere else without any problems. The boards don’t need ground electrodes either, meaning less cables and noise.
The platform employs the same algorithm, no matter the gesture, letting a user carry out actions that were never before possible, whether that’s turning a table surface into a music machine or commanding an entertainment center in a more intuitive manner.
For its crowdfunding debut, Gesto is available in two separate versions: an out-of-the-box ready kit for starters (Caelum) and a fully-configurable dev kit (Stella) for more experienced inventors. Both units are based on an EMG circuit and an ATmega1284P yet boast much different form factors — Caelum measures in at 40mm x 40mm, while Stella a bit smaller at 35mm x 20mm.
Caelum comes with eight reusable electrodes, cables, a 3.7V rechargeable battery, a microUSB cable and an elastomeric band, and connects to an accompanying mobile app via Bluetooth, enabling a user to create their own gestures easily without programming. 3D printable designs for the modular band will also be made available, allowing Makers to utilize Gesto throughout various parts of the body. Meanwhile, Stella is an Arduino-compatible, fully-configurable kit comprised of a tinier board, 16 disposable electrodes and cables for connection.
“From Stella you get the raw muscle data by SPI communication. It’s like an external sensor that you can connect to an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, for example. We provide all you need to start doing gesture recognition and muscle analysis,” the team writes. “Here the possibilities are endless, because you are not limited to Bluetooth connectivity! Use Wi-Fi or IR, combined muscle data with other sensors.”
What’s more, each Gesto unit has four bipolar muscle channels, and provides Makers will all of the necessary tools to do conduct muscle analysis: software filters, machine learning algorithms, feature extraction, data compression and integration, all of which made available in various languages including Matlab, C, Python, Java.
“Gesto provides free software that you usually find on expensive platforms,” its creators add. “We eliminated the ground electrode by creating a virtual ground. This means you can measure muscle activity in any part of the body without extra cables and electrodes.”
Intrigued? Head over to Gesto’s crowdfunding page, where the startup is currently seeking $75,000. Delivery is scheduled for March 2016.