Controlling Devices by Muscle Movement
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Date posted: 10/03/2009
Posted by: Site Administration
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Mimi Switch, a new Japanese device, has an interesting premise. It looks like a normal set of headphones but is fitted with a set of infrared sensors that measure tiny movements inside the ear that result from different facial expressions.

In other words, if you blink, or sneeze, scrunch your face up or laugh, Mimi, fitted in your ear, will detect the changing muscle patterns, and by and large be able to tell what you are doing.

This opens up the possibility of head-phones ? and by extension, a component of a larger HMD ? that forms hands-free computer interfacing.

Whilst the device can detect a wide range of facial movements, the commands which it interprets them as, is not hardwired. Instead, users can map individual facial movements to different devices. For example, if you desire to start a home networked washing machine with a wriggle of your nose as Samantha from Bewitched did, you can. Just tell Mimi how to interpret that particular muscle movement pattern.

Unfortunately, the drivers so far, are simplistic, and have no way as yet, to support cascade sequences ? if you perform one facial gesture, it has no capability yet to override the meaning of another facial gesture ? in the same way that a caps lock key on the keyboard changes the meaning of keys that come after you press it. Still, that capability may be in a future driver update, or will likely be created by a third party vendor.

The Mimi Switch could also store and interpret data and get to know its user, said Taniguchi, chief researcher at Osaka University's Graduate School of Engineering Science in western Japan.

"It monitors natural movements of the face in everyday life and accumulates data. If it judges that you aren't smiling enough, it may play a cheerful song."

Of course at that point, if you are in a real funk, it gets taken off and smashed to pieces on the hard ground. So, hopefully that kind of functionality can be discretely turned off.

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