A new kind of
has been created that immediately evokes images of the ear-mounted PC worn by Joaquin Phoenix in
Created by Hiroshima City University
staffer Kazuhiro Taniguchi, the prototype device’s interface uses infrared waves to detect when the wearer opens and closes his mouth. Those movements send corresponding command signals back to the device. Conceivably, apps could be created for the device that would let you do things like fetch traffic information or get directions by turning your head or biting down.
Taniguchi, who calls the Bluetooth device an Ear Switch, also embedded the formfitting earpiece with a compass, barometer, a speaker and microphone, gyro-sensors, a battery and GPS functions.
In a video
(in Japanese) posted by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Taniguchi is seen demonstrating the device at a Hiroshima, Japan, business fair in January.
Yet another video (see below), linked from Taniguchi’s staff page
, shows just how seamlessly the Ear Switch could be used to guide a person through their daily life, tucked almost invisibly behind their ear.
Aside from allowing the wearer to operate the device completely hands free, Taniguchi also believes the Ear Switch’s sensors could serve as a tool to monitor the wearer’s health. However, Taniguchi hasn’t released many of the technical details behind the device, so at this point it’s best to consider this a brilliant concept device that may become a commercial reality.
Nevertheless, the concept itself is incredibly promising. And while some of the most interesting parts of the web and mobile content are visual — an area in which the Ear Switch falls short — unwieldy devices like Google Glass have struggled to gain acceptance
Moving the wearable computing paradigm from the eyes to the ears — an unobtrusive position that would make it difficult for most to know whether or not you’re even computing – immediately makes the Ear Switch a far more viable mainstream solution than something like Glass.
According to a report
in the Nikkei
, the developer hopes to team up with a major firm to release a commercial version of the device sometime in 2015.