I’m Brent and I work in User Experience Design at Thalmic Labs, a fancy way of saying I make Myo easier to use. Now that final Myo pre-orders are shipping and people are using Myo every day, I’m going to share with you a handful of my favorite tips and tricks for getting the most out of Myo!

1. Drop lock.

When your Myo armband is unlocked and reading your gestures, you can lock it by dropping your arm (unless you're in presentations mode). It doesn’t need to drop far, just ten degrees. This comes in handy all the time, I’ll give you an example:

It’s 8AM, you’ve got your best outfit on, your Myo armband is on snugly and synced, and your presentation is perfect. You cruise through your first slide, unlock your Myo armband, and wave to go forward. The slide flips, but Myo is still listening to your gestures, so you hold your arm still for one second until it locks, then continue speaking.

We call this moment of hesitation as you wait for Myo to lock “robot arm” and we hate it. It’s only a second, but when you’re holding still waiting, it can feel longer. Drop lock lets you lock Myo by dropping your arm right after you flip slides, so you can speak naturally using your hands. It’s incredibly fast, and intuitive too: dropping your hands is a natural thing to do once you finish making a point while speaking. It adds to the “magical” effect Myo has on a presentation.

The only time drop lock won’t work is if you’re using an application that shuts off normal locking, like a video game that keeps Myo unlocked all the time.

2. Re-syncing.

If you’re ever having trouble getting Myo to recognize your gestures, re-sync. Y’know how sometimes you call tech support, and the first thing they tell you to do is quit the application and open it again? And in your head you’re thinking “well I could have done that” but then it somehow fixes the problem? Re-syncing is exactly like that.

When you sync, Myo reads your muscles, taking little samples of data. It uses that information to figure out where it is, which arm it’s on, how it’s oriented, and more.

If something happens during your sync, Myo gets confused. Say you sync really forcefully; Myo will think that a large amount of force is what’s normal for your gestures. Off that sync, you’ll have to make every fist like you’re choking an anaconda before Myo can read it. If you bump your arm into a table while syncing, there will be a little spike in your gesture data and you’re gonna have a bad time.

So if you’re having trouble with gesture recognition, try re-syncing. Remember to do it gently, just enough for Myo to read. If you’re still having problems we also have…

3. Custom Calibration.

Okay, now we are seriously in cyborg territory. Custom calibration is for two kinds of people:

  1. People who are having persistent problems with the Thalmic Labs profile, even after re-syncing.

  2. Hacker-type super users who are just looking to play and explore, and aren’t afraid of breaking things.

Thalmic Labs has made a profile designed to recognize five gestures on either arm of any person. It’s made so that if a friend wants to try controlling your drone with your Myo armband, you can slip it off, hand it to them, have them put it on properly and sync it, and take immediate control. It works despite vast differences in anatomy from one arm to the next.

However, if you’re in one of those two groups above, the Armband Manager lets you create a custom profile! It only takes a minute or two, but it will only work on your arm. The muscles in your arm are as unique as your fingerprint, and when you calibrate Myo you ask it to read onlyyour fingerprint. It will also only work in the position you use to calibrate, so you can’t move it around after calibrating.

Just open the armband manager, head to “Calibration,” click “Custom Profile,” and follow the steps.

Calibration

It will ask you to train Myo to recognize your unique fist, fingers spread, and wave gestures, and take a resting baseline. If you can’t get the Thalmic Labs profile recognizing your gestures, this is your fix.

However, when you’re calibrating Myo, it reads whatever gesture you input: it doesn’t have to be what you see on the screen. If you’re the type that isn’t afraid to break all the instructions out there and risk poor performance from Myo, you can record custom gestures.

Keep in mind the whole “five standard gestures” thing is something we do for a reason. It lets us make the  experience consistent whether you’re controlling a game, movie, or remote toy. If you make up your own gestures — replacing “fist” with “rock on fingers” — you’ll need to keep track of what they do. None of the instructions will apply anymore. The five main gestures are also something we’ve put a ton of time and thought into, and they’re very distinct from each other. If you pick  gestures that activate the same muscles in your arm, they’ll look the same to Myo and it won’t work.

I’ve mentioned this but it bears repeating:* it will only work on your arm, and only in one orientation. The custom profile is saved to the Myo armband itself, so you can take it off and put it on all you like. You just need to put it back on in *exactly the same place on your arm. If you move it at all, Myo won’t know which pod is over which muscle and will stop working. If you can put it on the same way every time, you can use the same custom profile all week! Hardcore cyborgs use permanent marker.

If you experience any other problems with Myo, there’s one last thing to know:

4. Rebooting.

If re-syncing Myo is like quitting an application and opening it again, Myo also has a full reboot.

Just plug it in to your computer, then unplug it. This will fully reboot your device. Easy peasy.

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back in the New Year with more tips and tricks to help you get the most of Myo!