Last fall, Intel Capital (Amazon’s Alexa fund) invested $120 million into Thalmic Labs to help fund Myo, a wearable armband that senses a users electrical impulses and translates them to a computing platform. Myo was initially designed to help users interact in a VR environment and replace a traditional keyboard.
Thalmic Labs’ CEO has now hinted at what the future may hold for the Waterloo-based company.
“We have new products in the pipeline and are excited to share more soon,” the cofounders all wrote in a letter last September.
CEO Stephen Lake is moving onto more grandiose visions of what Thalmic Labs is capable of.
“At a really high level, what we’ve been thinking about is what do our interactions as humans with the digital world,” said Lake. “What does that look like five to 10 years from now?”
The company is working on a wearable device that promises to change the way people interact with technology, according to Lake. Promises like this have been made before with varying levels of success (think Segway and the original Google Glass) but with Amazon as a backer and Thalmic’s experience in the wearables field, things seem a bit more real this time around.
The funding they received has gone into product development. The team has thought long and hard about devices like Alexa and how they can further apply their technology to the different areas Amazon’s smart speaker already excels in. Thalmic says the new product is not a Myo 2.0, or that it wont even use the same kinds of technology. Lake has just shared allusive thoughts pointing to improving the ways humans and machines interact, hoping to make it as seamless and immediate as possible.
Thalmic’s goal is to create wearables that will eventually replace phones, though they know phones aren’t going anywhere soon. Instead, this could simply be an evolution of those interfaces. Lake thinks that products like Alexa have already begun to replace phones for some.
“No longer if you’re cooking something in your kitchen do you need to take out your phone to set a timer,” said Lake. “You can talk to Alexa and say ‘Hey set me a timer for 10 minutes or find me a recipe for this thing I’m cooking’.”
Thalmic thinks about innovation from a different headspace. Myo began with the problem of finding the keyboard’s equivalent for a VR world in a field with lots of wearables and displays already around. From there, they work backwards to see what they need to invent to make it possible.
Amazon is not really known to be experimenting in wearables, but the companies Thalmic is working with have heavy resources invested into health technology and augmented reality, meaning what we see from Thalmic Labs could exist in one (or both) of those realms.