We’re always looking for new ways to control our mobile phones without using our hands, whether we’re driving or at work. Voice control is fine but not always welcome in quiet spaces. The next frontier? Facial expressions. Imagine winking to pause your music while in the car, or smiling to text a smiley face. It could even help those with motor disabilities, too.
In a new German study, earbuds were fitted with electrodes that can detect changes in the shape and electrical fields inside your ear canal as you make different faces. The system, according to NewScientist, can detect five separate expressions so far with 90 percent accuracy: smiling, winking, turning your head to the right, opening your mouth and even making a “shh” sound.
NewScientist also notes that consumer-grade versions of this tech will need to make sure you don’t accidentally send out messages, for example, every time you smile. Context is key, of course — it might only trigger a text when you’re in a messaging app.
For those with mobility issues, having a way to manage your technology in a normalized way can be a big win. But the rest of us will benefit, too. Telling your phone to block a call or send a quick message with a wink or tap on our face feels like the next step in human-machine interaction.
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