Thalmic Labs

Why your hands are this startup's gold mine

Matthew Bailey, 28; Aaron Grant, 27; Stephen Lake, 27
2016 Revenue:
Computer Hardware
Kitchener, Ontario 
$135.6 million

Thalmic Labs introduced its futuristic gesture-control device, the Myo armband, in 2013. The wearable device allows its user to control electronics (as advanced as that found in drones) with a simple hand gesture. Co-founders Stephen Lake, Aaron Grant, and Matthew Bailey thought of the idea at a pub, musing over how humans interact with technology and pondering what could make these transactions more seamless. "We use our hands to interact with everything in the world around us," says Lake, the CEO, and he's not wrong. Think about how many times you’ve used your hands today: turning a doorknob, switching a light on, or pressing a button on your computer, among countless other examples. The three engineers sought to create what Lake refers to as a "natural interface" between the user and the Myo armband--so that the device readily integrates with people's way of life, without imposing new behaviors or distracting you from paying attention to your surroundings. So how does it work? Myo's technology picks up the tiny electric impulses between your muscles and your brain. The wearable is then able to recognize when you're making a fist or waving your hand, and with that, you can program each gesture to control a different feature of your electronic device. "If you do wearables right, they actually help us be more present in the world around us and have access to digital information and communications," says Lake. "That is the vision we are pursuing [at Thalmic Labs]." --Guadalupe Gonzalez