Remember that video a few months back showing the cool gesture control device, MYO? Well, investors seem to have taken notice as well. Canada-based Thalmic Labs — the startup behind that MYO armband — have just announced a $14.5 million Series A round of funding led by Spark Capital and Intel Capital.
Started by three University of Waterloo grads, Thalmic began building the armband as soon as the students graduated in 2012 and have been running with it ever since.
The MYO armband is a really innovative device, taking wearable technology to a new level. Or, given that it hasn’t been released yet, it’s a very innovative concept at the very least.
It is a gesture controlled armband that uses your forearm as the controller. It can potentially control a phone, a TV, a remote control car, an actual car, you name it. It works by tracking muscle movement and then sending and processing that information for various utilities. The video on the company’s website showed someone playing tetris as well as controlling a moving ball, but its potential use-cases are really endless.
Wearables are all the rage, but what Thamlic wants to remind everyone is that they are not necessarily relegated to headpieces projecting into your eye. Actually, Thalmic is one of the only companies out there making one that isn’t a Google Glass clone. Even more, the MYO may prove to be even more malleable and functional than Glass because of its simplicity.
This new round of funding will help the company hire more people and potentially look beyond the MYO in the future. According to a company press release the money will be used “to fuel continued growth, further product development of MYO, and develop future products and technologies,”
Thalmic’s CEO and co-founder Stephen Lake wouldn’t tell me what future development might look like, other than to toss me a bromide that “we’re focused on getting the MYO in the hands of our customers.“
And expansion is definitely the operative word. Now with only 25 employees, Lake sees this boost in finance as a way to find the best of the best for the startup. “We’re always on the hunt for really smart people who are relentlessly resourceful, and as we continue to find those perfect fits the team will keep growing,” he said. “Of course, this investment plays a big role in enabling us to continue recruiting these type of people.”
One of the other interesting notes is Intel Capital’s role as an investor. Lake says he’s excited about this prospect because of Intel’s “deep expertise in manufacturing and R&D.” He plans on using this financial partnership as a way to gain knowledge from Intel as well as use scale production and enhance next generation production.
Of course, no one (except for Thalmic) has seen a fully developed MYO. So all of this excitement could be all for naught. The company began taking preorders for the device last February at $149 a pop, and have received orders for more than 30,000 devices to date. Lake told me the developer program will be rolling out sometime this summer (although no exact date has been released). That will really be when we see if the program will shine or not.
But this financing adds credence to the idea that Thalmic may be on to something. Not bad for a company started by some mechatronics nerd schoolmates from Canada.
[Image via Thalmic Labs]