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Topic: Using Physiological Sensing for Embodied Interaction 

In this workshop, we will introduce the basic concepts for sensing of human muscle activity. We provide a basic explanation of how physiological sensing works, introduce how it can be technically realized, and show different applications and usage scenarios.

Using Arduino-boards with EMG shields all participants can acquire hands-on experience in creating their own EMG controlled device. During the workshop, we will first use a pre-programmed setup to demonstrate working principle and the signal output that can be expected. Then teams will define their own ideas (e.g. EMG controlled musical instrument, EMG controlled game, an innovative visualization of EMG signals, or something completely different) and work towards a fully functional prototype. At the end of the workshop, each team will present what they have created.

Optionally participants can stay for another day to continue on their project.


Recommended Reading to excite you for the Topic

 Albrecht Schmidt. 2015. Biosignals in human-computer interaction. ACM interactions 23, 1 (December 2015), 76-79. DOI= (Download as HTML, PDF).


T Scott Saponas, Desney S. Tan, Dan Morris, and Ravin Balakrishnan. 2008. Demonstrating the feasibility of using forearm electromyography for muscle-computer interfaces. CHI ’08. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 515-524. DOI=


Technologies used in the Workshop

At the workshop we will provide the following hardware for experimentation:

A detailed description of the use Hardware and Software is provided on an extra page.

There are even simpler ways to acquire EMG, e.g. using a simple instrumentation amplifier circuit and the line-in port of a computer, see


Preliminary Agenda

All lectures/discussions will take place in room 0.009, Pfaffenwaldring (PWR) 5a, 70569 Stuttgart.

Thursday, March, 9th 2017

11:00 Lab tour HCILab Stuttgart (optional), starts in the coffee kitchen (near room 01.021, PWR 5a)

12:00 Lunch

13:00 Welcome to the Workshop

13:15-14:00 Keynote by Leonardo Gizzi: Physiological sensing for Human Computer Interaction (slides)


A natural human computer interaction (HCI) gets more and more feasible as the computational power steadily increases, and the recent advances in signal processing and data clustering allow for higher information throughput.

The human body is a precious source of information that can be harvested and used for HCI purposes as long as one has clear in mind the link between the physiological phenomenon and the intention/emotion of the subject.

This lecture provides a rationale for the use of physiological data (with a special focus on neurophysiology) in the context of machine control, and discusses some of the most diffused principles for sensing the human body with the aim of decoding the messages of the Central Nervous System.

14:00-14:30 Introduction to EMG and Control through Muscle Activity (Jakob Karolus, Albrecht Schmidt)

  • Explanation of the hardware (EMG Shield, Arduino Board, ADC-BT-Transmitter, electrodes)
  • Explanation of the software (Custom-firmware on Arduino and ADC-BT-Transmitter,  Software on PC – processing & python)
  • Demo of the system

Hardware (board, schematic), Software and Firmware are available on an extra page. 

14:30-15:00 EMG try-out session (all)

15:00-15:30 Coffee break

15:30-16:00 Ideation Session (all)

  • 5 Discussions, each 5 minutes with 4 people,  mixing after each discussion slot
  • Lead questions:
    • Discussion 1+2: Why to use EMG? What is the advantage of using EMG?
    • Discussion 3: Application of EMG control, assume to have one channel/muscle and only active/non-active
    • Discussion 4: Application of EMG control, assume to have one channel/muscle and levels of activity
    • Discussion 5: Application of EMG control using multiple channels/muscles and levels of activity

16:00-18:00 Hands-On Prototyping (all)

  • Make groups of 2-5 people
  • Get a basic EMG setup running with the provided hard- and software
  • Extend this to build an EMG controlled Devices, e.g.
    • EMG controlled musical instrument
    • EMG controlled game
    • Visualization of EMG signals

19:00 We leave for Dinner…
19:30 KÖNIGSBAU Café (Königstraße 28, 70173 Stuttgart – Haltestelle Stadtmitte)


Friday, March 10th 2017

9:00-9:30 Intermediate presentations: EMG controlled Devices

  • Each group has 120 seconds to show what they did on Thursday, what their idea is, what they plan for the day
  • Identifying problems and helping each other with solutions

9:30-12:30 Hands-On Prototyping: EMG controlled Devices continued

12:30-13:30 Lunch

13:30-15:00 Presentation of Results and Discussion

15:00-16:00 GI-Fachgruppensitzung


Friday from 16:00 to Saturday 16:00 (optional)

Hands-On Prototyping: EMG controlled Devices continued

You are invited to stay for another day and to continue your project. The workshop location will be available, as will be tools and expertise.


The participation in the workshop is free of charge but in order to organizer rooms, equipment and catering we need you to register. Please send an email to: stating you name and affiliation. If more people register than there are places available, we will prioritize registrations of members of the “Fachgruppe be-greifbare Interaktion”, of students who conduct an MSc or PhD that is closely related to the topic of the workshop, and people teaching HCI in academic environments.

Hotel and Travel:

We have reserved rooms at the Commundo hotel on campus. The hotel is a 2 minutes walk from the workshop location. The price for a single room per night is 79€. We will provide details on how to book shortly. There are plenty of other hotels and hostels available, please use your favorite search tool 😉

For a description of how to find us see:

Picture Impressions

Project results

Full playlist containing all presentations: