Thalmic Labs raises $120M for gesture-tracking connected wearables with medical applications

By Heather Mack
Share

Canada-based wearable technology company Thalmic Labs, which makes the connected armband Myo, has raised $120 million in Series B funding in a round led by Intel Capital, the Amazon Alexa Fund and Fidelity Investments Canada, TechCrunch has reported. The funding will support the company’s expansion of its product line, as well as hiring staff for the company’s new San Francisco office.

Thalmic’s current offering is the Myo armband, which was released to the public in 2014 and reads the electrical activity of the wearer’s muscles for hands-free control of technology through motion.

The applications span from entertainment (DJs using Myo to control lights and stage effects), mechanical work and drone operation, to medical. One project involves a person with amputations working with researchers at Johns Hopkins University to can gain control over a prosthetic limb via two Myo armbands.

Another research project at Arizona State University is looking at the role of Myo in conjunction with a computer or smartphone to create a gesture-based input system to create communication between those using sign language and those who don’t understand it. The project is called Sceptre, and researchers are using the armbands to teach software to a range of American Sign Language gestures. When a person wearing Myo signs, it can be matched up to a corresponding word or phrase in Sceptre’s database that shows up as text on a screen.  

Additionally, surgeons in Spain are using the armband for touch-free medical imaging controls.

"Giving surgeons touch-free control over information in real-time was a very early application idea for the Myo armband, and medical imaging firm TedCas made it a reality," Thalmic writes on its website. "With the use of a Myo armband, various cameras, and voice recognition software, Thalmic Labs’ technology is at the center of what could be a transformative shift in the way surgeons work."

The company hasn’t given details about any upcoming products, but they did recently announce the hiring of Tara Kriese as new CMO.  Formerly, Kriese was Samsung Electronics head of marketing for VR.