Japanese make facial expression controllable earclip wearable

Japanese researchers have developed a wearable that users can wear on their ear and which they can operate by, for example, winking or clicking their tongue. The scientists call their device “Earclip-type Wearable PC.”

The device weighs 17 grams and must be attached partly in the ear and partly behind the auricle. The wearable contains GPS, a compass, a gyroscope, a barometer, a speaker and a microphone. There is also support for bluetooth and there is an undisclosed chip and an unknown amount of memory.

In addition, there are infrared sensors that can register the minute movements in the ear. Different movements of the eyes and mouth cause movements in the ear and the Earclip-type Wearable PC can distinguish them, which makes operation by means of, for example, winking, raising eyebrows, grinding teeth or picking up your nose. This means that the wearable can be used, for example, to control the interface of mobile devices to which the ear clip can connect, such as smartphones.

According to developer Kazuhiro Taniguchi of Hiroshima City University, the device could be helpful to motorcyclists, astronauts, people with disabilities and climbers. “Suppose I climb a mountain and look up at a bright star, this device can tell me which star it is,” Taniguchi told AFP. “It knows where I’m at, and in what direction and from what angle I’m looking, so it can say that bright star is Sirius, for example.”

The team at Hiroshima City University is also working on a healthcare version that could help the hearing impaired, monitor health, and warn if the user falls, for example.

The Earclip-type Wearable PC should be ready by the end of this year, and by April next year, the university hopes to have manufacturers excited about commercial production.