Tag Archives: Wearable Sensors

MyoWare is an Arduino-compatible, wearable muscle sensor platform


This wearable sensor platform allows you to harness the power of muscle signals.  


Using our muscles to control the world around us is something we are all accustomed to — whether that’s pushing buttons on TV remotes, pulling door handles or toggling game joysticks. But what if we could take those things out of the equation? In other words, what if you could remove the middleman by harnessing your muscle’s electrical activity, amplifying it and then converting it into a form that can be used to command an Arduino, a robot or an assortment of everyday devices?

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Measuring muscle activity by detecting its electric potential is commonly referred to as electromyography, or EMG. The process has traditionally been employed throughout the medical industry, albeit not so much the hobbyist crowd. However, with the advent of the Maker Movement paired with rise of ever-shrinking yet more powerful microcontrollers, EMG circuits and sensors have found their way into all kinds of control systems. And so, MyoWare was born.

Now in its fourth iteration, the wearable muscle sensor platform enables users to measure the filtered and rectified electrical activity of a muscle. Simply stick the MyoWare sensor on a few electrodes and place onto a person’s skin. When the brain tells their muscle to flex, it will send an electrical signal to that muscle to start recruiting motor units — these are those groups of muscle fibers responsible for generating force strength.read the voltage out and start pumping up those muscles. The more a wearer flexes, the more motor units are recruited to generate greater muscle force. The greater the number of motor units, the more the muscle electrical activity increases. MyoWare then analyzes this electrical activity and outputs an analog signal that represents how hard the muscle is being flexed.

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The latest version of the platform allows the sensors to be plugged directy into a 3.3V–5V development board, like an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328), and eliminates those pesky wires by letting Makers easily snapping the embedded electrodes onto MyoWare. Advancer Technologies has also added a secondary output for RAW EMG waveform, an on-board on/off switch and a pair of LEDs that will serve as a power indicator as well as a gauge for muscle flexing.

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As any Maker knows, extending capabilities is key when a project is under development. And so, the team admittedly decided to take a page from the highly-popular Arduino platform’s playbook and incorporate shields into MyoWare. These modular boards consist of a cable shield for when embedded snaps are not suitable, a proto shield with tons of through hole pins, a power shield with two 20mm coin cell batteries to give MyoWare all of the juice it needs to operate, and a 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,” the team writes.

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What’s more, the startup has been providing its sensors to several organizations to enable a range of impressive projects that are truly making a difference in this world. Take Limbitless Solutions for example, who has been able to craft 3D-printed myoelectric prosthetic arms and donate them to children in need. During their crowdfunding campaign, Advancer Technologies has committed to donating one sensor a child for every five backers of $25 or more.

Intrigued? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where Advancer Technologies is currently seeking $10,000. Delivery is slated to begin in July 2015. In the meantime, you can check out its earlier version on SparkFun here.

Report: Wearable sensor market to grow sevenfold in 5 years

The market for sensors used in wearable technology is set to grow sevenfold over the next five years, according to IHS Technology. The new report, entitled “MEMS & Sensors for Wearables Report – 2014,” notes fitness and health monitoring features as well as improved user interfaces among key drivers fueling this growth.

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The research firm stated the worldwide market for sensors in wearables will expand to 466 million units in 2019, up from 67 million in 2013, while shipments of sensors will climb much more quickly than the market for the wearable devices themselves. As the report reveals, wearable devices are expected to increase to 135 million units in 2019, just shy of three times the total of 50 million in 2013.

“Wearables are a hotbed for sensors, with market growth driven by the increasing number of these components in each product sold,” explained Jeremie Bouchaud, IHS Technology Senior Principal Analyst. “The main factor propelling this phenomenon is a transition in market share away from simple products like pedometers and toward more sophisticated multipurpose devices such as smartwatches and smartglasses. Instead of using a single sensor like the simpler devices, the more complex products employ numerous components for health and activity monitoring, as well as for their more advanced user interfaces.”

This comes as great news for makers of motion sensors like gyroscopes and accelerometers, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), sensors driving user interfaces, and health and environmental sensors, In fact, IHS predicted the average wearable device shipped in 2019 to encompass 4.1 sensor elements, a rise from just 1.4 in 2013.

IHS shared that smartphones brands are becoming increasingly aware that wearables are a better platform for some types of sensors than mobile handsets; in addition, the firm expects components such as humidity and pulse sensors to move from handsets to wearable devices.

“The use of these types of sensors reflects consumer preferences that are propelling the growth of the wearables market,” Bouchaud said. “Users want health and fitness monitoring, and they want wearable devices that act as extensions of their smartphones. However, there’s no real demand from consumers for environmental sensors. Instead, the rising adoption of environmental sensors such as humidity and UV devices is being pushed by both sensor suppliers and wearable original equipment manufacturers (OEM).”

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The market for sensors in wearables will undergo a major acceleration next year as shipments of the Apple Watch commence. Overall wearable sensor shipments will double in 2014; shipments of sensors for smartwatches will surge by nearly 600%.

“Similar to the iPhone and iPad, IHS expects the Apple Watch will set a de facto standard for sensor specifications in smartwatches. Most other wearable OEMs will follow Apple’s lead in using these four devices—or will add even more sensors to differentiate,” Bouchaud explained.

IHS goes on to reveal that fitness and heart rate monitors, along with foot pods and pedometers, led the wearable market in terms of sensor shipments in 2013. However, smartwatches will take the top position starting next year and will maintain dominance through 2019.

As this report highlights, embedded wearable technology isn’t going away anytime soon. Sensors are everywhere and are being designed into everything in the connected world. The requirements are moving from simple monitoring to full interpretation of the devices state and situation. Many of these tasks require the simultaneous analysis and fusion of data from different sensors and sensor types. These can include motion sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes), environment sensors (temperature, pressure and humidity) and many others mentioned by IHS. To simplify enabling these systems, Atmel has partnered with the leading sensor manufacturers and sensor fusion specialists to provide a complete, easy-to-implement Sensor Hub Solution.

Interested in reading more? You can access the entire IHS Research report here.