Looks like we are going to see a lot of wearable devices in the near future. After Google Glass in the past and the onslaught of smartwatches and fitness trackers at the just-concluded Mobile World Congress, it is the turn of a wearable PC that looks like a clap-on earphone.
Researchers at the Hiroshima City University are testing a tiny personal computer that can work on the ear and can be controlled by gestures such as blinking of an eye or clicking of the tongue. Weighing in at 17 grams, the wireless device has Bluetooth support, is equipped with a GPS compass, has gyro-sensor, battery, barometer, speaker and microphone.
Engineer Kazuhiro Taniguchi of the Hiroshima State University told AFP that he expects people to wear this device the same way they wear earrings. This system which developers say should be ready by Christmas 2015 can be connected to devices such as the iPod or other mobile gadgets. It will allow the user to navigate through apps using gestures such as facial expressions such as raised eyebrows, stuck-out tongue, clenching teeth and so on.
The device uses infrared sensors that monitor tiny movements inside the ear, which differ depending on how the eyes and mouth move. As the user does not have to move either hand, its developers say it can serve as ‘a third hand’ for everyone from caregivers to rock-climbers, motorbike riders to astronauts, as well as people with disabilities.
Another version of the same device is being worked upon to be used in geriatric healthcare. It will allow relatives to keep an eye on their elderly family members in Japan. It can be used as a hearing aid or used to monitor the wearer’s health by tracking pulse rate and body temperature. The onboard accelerometer can tell if the user suffers a fall and can automatically pass on this information to relatives or call an ambulance based on the GPS location. Tests are being carried out in Hiroshima, with the aim of commercialising the device from April 2016.