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In pictures: The wearable Myo controller being developed in Kitchener

More than 30,000 of the devices have been ordered, but they haven't yet been manufactured

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The Myo controller, made by Thalmic Labs Inc. of Kitchener, Ont., is used to operate a helicopter-like drone. The wearable device senses movements of hand and finger muscles and wirelessly transmits signals that can control games and apps on a computer or smartphone. Thalmic Labs already has more than 30,000 orders for the devices, which are priced at $149. But they have yet to be manufactured.

Image courtesy of Thalmic Labs

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Myo is about 1 inch wide and is worn on the forearm. It was invented by Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey and Aaron Grant, all students at the University of Waterloo, who thought the wires and bulky gear needed to control video games were too cumbersome.

Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

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This image captured from a Thalmic Labs video shows the muscles of the forearm that move when the hand and fingers are flexed and twisted.

Thalmic Labs

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Matthew Bailey, left, and Stephen Lake are co-founders of Thalmic Labs Inc. along with Aaron Grant (not pictured). Mr. Bailey is now vice-president, and Mr. Lake is the chief executive officer. While the company searches for a manufacturer in Asia, it is also faced with the challenge of maintaining its momentum with customers and backers and protecting its interests at home. The soonest they can start shipping products and get revenue flowing is the end of this year.

Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

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Thalmic Labs occupies space in the historic Tannery building in downtown Kitchener, Ont. Despite its lack of revenue, the company has been fortunate to have venture capital investors ready to cover costs, including the payroll for 20 software engineers who have joined the staff to develop apps for the Myo device.

Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

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Zack MacLennan solders a chipboard to a sensory unit at Thalmic Labs.

Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Lake says his team is taking its time in going to production to ensure the quality of the product. If they choose a big company that also makes products for electronics giants they might be considered a low priority. If they go to a smaller manufacturer, it might not be able to handle the demand. In the meantime, Mr. Lake acknowledges there’s a risk that a competitor who studies how the wristband works could rush a copycat onto the market.

Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

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