Open-Source EMG biosensor - Ask Me Anything!

Hello QSers -

I love this site. I’ve been interested in biohacking for years, and it’s cool to see so many other DIY biohackers out there! This is my first forum post. I’ve worked in biomedical research for a while and recently quit my job to try and start my own company making med tech affordable and open-source. My first attempt is an EMG sensor (measures muscle signals) and I’m currently running a kickstarter campaign to fund production(

EMG sensors are shockingly expensive (thousands of dollars) and I realized I can make them for less than 200 bucks and still support my efforts! I’m hoping to provide an inexpensive tool for home physical therapy monitoring, as well as for education and alternative machine control interfaces (for example, I can control my computer mouse with my biceps).

I’ve put together a suite of computer apps, and now I’m working on expanding to Bluetooth versions of the sensor and smart phone apps. See details and demo videos here:

I’d love to hear your questions and thoughts. What features would be cool? What apps would you want developed? What’s it like to develop a biosensing product or run a kickstarter campaign? Ask me anything!

How does this compare to I imagine the adhesive electrodes you use allow for much finer control?

Can effort be inferred from the EMG signal?

Great questions! The Myo (which is pretty cool!) is a combo of EMG and accelerometer sensors, which helps get motion as well as effort (EMG alone cannot tell you where the muscle is).

Signal strength: I am not positive, but I would guess the conductive gel electrodes do pick up a cleaner signal. Myo may make up for that in post-processing.

Application: The Myo seems like a great tool for controlling things like your phone or interacting with a computer with your forearm, without use of sticker electrodes. The FlexVolt allows the user more flexibility as far as what you connect, such as if you want left and right bicep, or pecs, or neck muscles, or eye tracking (EOG). Myo is wireless, and I am currently building a wireless FlexVolt - adding to the kickstarter soon!

Effort Level: Yes. Voltage output on the arm is tied to effort. I have tested this by working out with different weights. Trying to lift heavier weights, or to lift the same weight but faster, will lead to a larger signal.

Thanks for the explanations!

Could it be used for stress management biofeedback? For example, trying to consciously relax tense muscle groups?

Good question - muscle relaxation control is one of the applications I foresee for FlexVolt. Yes, I think it would provide useful feedback, though I have not tested for lack of a tense muscle. Here’s why: The sensor will pick up muscle activation signals whether you are moving or not. For example, with my arm sitting still on the table, if I were to flex even slightly, without any motion, I still get quite visible signal changes.

This looks like a fascinating addition to the QS/Biohacking tracking and measurement tool kits, Brendan. I threw you a few bucks on Kickstarter and shared your project on the BiohackersNYC Facebook group. Please keep us informed of your progress and latest development (and also if you ever come to NYC!)

Thanks Richard! Will do - to both your requests.