In such a technologically hungry scene as electronic music, DJs are always looking to take shows to 'the next level'. First, it was graphics and visuals, then it was costumes (Beetroots) and more gimmicky wearables (hey deadmau5). Then we progressed to more interactive feats—Dubfire Live.Hybrid, Plastikman's bubble, even ZHU's mysterious sheet. The list goes on.
Thalmic Labs' Myo Armband is predicated on a very simple understanding: that the line between man and machine is becoming more blurred.
The Myo Armband allows its wearer to plug in and gain complete control of the light features on-stage. You can program the connection however you see fit. Currently, Armin Van Buuren programs his armband so that the lights on his stage mimic his arm movements to a tee. The armband is useful for many different staged performances, whether it's a Broadway musical or a professional presentation. Fundamentally, the armband is used to sync gestures and movements to tech cues. Dance music isn't the purpose of the armband, but rather one of many applications.
"We're interested in building the future of human-computer interaction," Thalmic Labs tells THUMP. "The Myo is our first step down a long path in this direction."
Customisation is at the core of Thalmic's DNA. With Myo, they're hoping developers will pick up their public API and use it in any way they like. In fact, developers can already get their hands in the code and start working it into their applications.
"It truly depends on what the developer who built the application had in mind when coding," Thalmic Labs explains. And, they assure us, it's not genre specific. A techno DJ could find a wildly different use for it than an indie band.
Myo has the potential to disrupt live performances as we know it, but it does raise some questions. Big name artists like Armin Van Buuren have creative teams at their disposal and may well know how to put on a light show, but what about smaller ones? It's not exactly the most adaptable technology when it comes to club life. Performers would need to rig it into the greater lighting system and would likely need to endure a 'light check' along with a sound check before the show. It would also take a significant amount of practice and fine-tuning, that again requires a hefty investment of both time and money.
Still, as early movers adopt the technology and begin to work it into their performances, we may see uses that play nicely with existing standards and don't offend. Currently, the application is an open canvas for developers to play with, which tends to result in further innovation and solid results. The question is, is it malleable enough to be adopted by a greater number of professional users, or is it just reserved for the upper echelon of DJs and musicians? Only time will tell, but with heavyweights like Armin Van Buuren backing the technology, it definitely has a good shot.
Main image courtesy of Doug Van Sant.