Matthew Bailey recently told us his maker story, and shared some insights into what goes on behind the scenes at Thalmic Labs. Matthew is one of the three people who developed the very first Myo armband prototypes, and is still heavily involved in its mechanical design and manufacturing.
Matthew makes technology to understand what humans intend, through mechanical engineering, manufacturing, and pattern recognition.
Thalmic has been the only company that I’ve worked at since graduating from the Mechatronics Engineering program at the University of Waterloo in 2012, but I’ve always enjoyed getting my hands dirty. As a visiting scholar at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), I worked on a project which was an electronic aid for the visually impaired.
My father has also been a big influence on me being a “maker”. He’s an electrician who built and modified his own cars, houses, furniture, and much more. At an early age, I began helping him with all of his projects, from welding a wrought iron railing together to building an extension onto our house or changing the brakes on our cars.
Elon Musk. He is a brilliant mind with the guts to solve the world’s toughest challenges. Everything he says and does is extremely well thought out and accurate.
We wanted to develop a device that would connect the real and the digital worlds more naturally and intuitively as we move towards wearable and ubiquitous computing.
We went through a ton of permutations before landing on the final design. It started as a sweatband (requiring me to develop some sewing skills), then moved to 3D printed plastic pods held together by elastic, then to our Alpha unit which had moving and sliding parts. After a lot of sweat, we landed on the final design we have today.
We needed to develop novel manufacturing processes that allowed us to run our electronics through a flexible rubber material that holds the Myo together, while also providing the elastic force needed to stay on your arm. It results in a robust and sleek design, both of which are critical for a wearable product.
The Thalmic Labs team makes the entire Myo on site: prototyping, testing, manufacturing, and shipping all in a facility adjacent to their offices in Kitchener, Ontario. In the lab: this video goes behind the scenes to talk about Myo supply chain and manufacturing.
In addition to multimedia, smart home, and smartphone applications, the possibilities for this kind of technology are seemingly endless. One application will likely be in the workforce, where wearables like this will improve productivity, increase collaboration, and enhance overall effectiveness.