Technology with attitude

VIDEO: Play Super Mario via the Signals Generated by Your Muscles

A small American company, Advancer Technologies has developed a plug-in-play USB videogame controller that harnesses the power of electromyography (EMG), a technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles, to allow players to directly control computer games with their muscles.This technology is demonstrated in their latest video, in which they navigate their way through the first level of Super Mario Brothers 3 using only the signals generated from their muscles. If you like the idea and want to replace the good old controller to your own muscles, you can purchase the components from Advancer Technologies and assemble the biofeedback device by using the step-by-step tutorial on Instructables.com.

At the core of this plug-in-play device is the low-cost Arduino UNO microcontroller, a favorite among hobbyist and students. Integrated with the Arduino UNO are four of Advancer Technologies’ Platinum Series Muscle Sensors, allowing four muscles to act independently or in combination with each other to control over four buttons. In their setup, Advancer Technologies elected to use a 6 button setup with the following distribution:

  • Left forearm controlling the B button (RUN/ATTACK)
  • Right forearm controlling the A button (JUMP)
  • Left bicep controlling the LEFT button
  • Right bicep controlling the RIGHT button, and combinations for UP and DOWN.

When the player flexes a muscle, the Arduino registers a spike in muscle activity, triggering a button press, and sends this information to the computer via USB connection, all in real-time.

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