When people talk about changes in computing over the last 40 years, the discussion usually focuses on two things: 1) computational power (Moore’s Law) or 2) the growth of network effects (Metcalfe’s Law). But just as pivotal have been the big leaps forward in interfaces.
The mouse was once a new kind of input device, and it became the catalyst for the creation of the modern graphical user interface. More recently, multi-touch technology was used by Apple to reinvent the smartphone market. Today we are in the hobbiest days of wearable and contextual computing, struggling with how we are going to interface with these new devices, whether they are glasses, watches, or something we have yet to see.
The team at Thalmic Labs have been working on exactly this problem, and they’ve come up with something quite remarkable. Their first product, the Myo, feels like a light armband. It allows you to interface with other computer devices in a natural and seamless way, combining inertial sensors with a unique muscle recognition engine — but just as importantly it does so in an easy-to-use manner. Here’s a video showing it in action:
Steve Jobs famously said, “In consumer electronics companies, they don’t understand the software parts of it. And so they can’t really innovate because design is how it works, not just what makes it work.”
Despite all the press it has received and the millions of dollars in pre-orders, the Myo is still in its early stages of development. The team knows it faces not just hardware challenges, but also challenges in software and greater ease of use. The introduction of multi-touch came to the public fully formed with the iPhone, accompanied by applications like Calendar and Mail that were custom built for it. With the Myo, that process is going be done in the public eye with new applications being developed by the team, key partners, and a growing developer community.
And so I’m excited to announce that Spark Capital is leading a $14.5m A-round in Thalmic Labs along with our friends at Intel Capital, Formation 8 and First Round Capital. The founding team members at Thalmic Labs — Stephen, Aaron, and Matt — are the kind of people I dream of getting a chance to work with. A young, phenomenally smart, band of folks determined to change the world of computing. We believe that new interfaces — like the Myo — can create new platforms, and that wearable computing is one simple interface away from reaching the mainstream.