2013 Startup of the Year: Thalmic Labs CEO Stephen Lake on the Future of Myo

Thalmic Labs this month was crowned winner of the 2013 Canadian Startup Awards in the Startup of the Year category. The company’s debut product, Myo, is a gesture-sensing armband that takes its cues from muscle movements. i sat down with CEO Stephen Lake in the company’s remote lair situated inside a volcano (not really—we just talked over email) to find out what’s in store for Thalmic in 2014.

Ryan Creighton: When will the Myo launch?

Stephen Lake: We started to ship out Myo Alpha units in December and are continuing to do so in waves. Final Myo hardware will start shipping to a broader audience later this year, starting with the Myo developer kits in a few months.

RC: Are there any specific uses for Myo that you hope certain developers run with?

SL: There’s a lot of interest in gaming, multimedia including presentations and music controls, artistic uses including music creation and 3D modeling, and a number of industrial and robotics uses. We’re excited to see what developers build in all verticals, including the ones that we’ve thought of and the ones that we haven’t.

RC: The Leap is available now, but it hasn’t seen terrific adoption. What’s your plan to succeed where the Leap has, arguably, failed?

SL: Myo is a unique product because it is mobile, versatile, and reads the electrical activity in your muscles to control nearly any Bluetooth-enabled electronic device. We’re much more focused on a narrow set of use cases that are polished and work well.

(RC: Oh snap!)

RC: What do you expect (or hope) will be the “killer app” for Myo?

SL: There are some apps that we’re going to be making internally and we’re pretty excited about them. No details to share right now!

RC: Can we look forward to Myo/Sphero integration in the near future?

SL: Definitely. We’ve actually showed this integration a few times already.



RC: Technology is a double-edged sword. i’ll bet the military can’t wait to use the Myo. What’s the most wonderful use of Myo you can imagine, and what’s the most nightmarish scenario you can come up with?

SL: We’re excited to see Myo help those with limited movement achieve things that weren’t possible without them. We’re trying to focus on the positive more than anything right now.

RC: i want to play a Star Wars game where i play as Darth Vader and i just go around force-choking admirals who have failed me for the last time. Can you accommodate?

SL: Anything’s possible!

RC: What’s next for Myo after all the pre-orders are filled? What does the road map look like for 2014?

SL: We have big plans for 2014 and beyond. In the short term, we’re looking forward to getting Myo into more hands. (RC: i see what you did there.) In the longer term, we’re excited about the future of technology. Specifically, the idea of closely coupling us as humans with digital technology in ways that improve or enhance our lives and/or abilities. For us, Myo is a first step down a long path in this direction.

RC: i want to play a video game as Spider-Man where i flex my two middle fingers and shoot a web that stops Darth Vader from force-choking admirals who have failed him for the last time. How about it? And then i switch to Uncle Joey who tells them both to “cut … it … out” using the Myo. Please begin development immediately.

SL: Are you a devleoper by any chance? You sound like you’d be the perfect addition to our developer program.

RC: *blush* i bet you say that to all the developers.