We’ve been controlling our smartphones, portable MP3 players, and even portable CD players (remember those?) via remote controls on earphone wires for seemingly decades. But as the world hurtles toward a wireless future, those cables - and remote controls - will soon be a thing of the past.
There are solutions out there, some more practical than others. Somewhere in the middle sits the prototype computer interaction researcher Denys Matthies has created. His innovation is earbuds that can be controlled via your facial expressions, especially your smiles.
That’s because when you smile, your ear canals contract. Matthies’ earbuds use electrodes that sense the shape of ear canals to recognize expressions, including smiling, winking, saying “shhh”, mouth opening and turning your head sideways.
Because the earbuds are connected to your smartphone via BlueTooth, this opens up a whole new world of interaction. Smile to play music, wink to send a text or say “shhh” to go mute.
We look forward to a future in which subway riders stand in silence making gestures and “shushing” one another. Or when winking becomes a no-longer creepy thing to do in public. “Hey, I was just texting my mom!”
The technology is real and it could be spectacular. Matties will be presenting his findings at a human-computer interaction conference this May. While the technology could be useful for anyone, he’s especially interested in its implications for those with limited mobility.
In a brief video posted to YouTube, Matthies shows a man making various gestures of 25 types and showing data being received unique to each one, demonstrating that the tech indeed does work.
Watch the video below.