Researchers from Japan’s Hiroshima City University reveal a 17 gram computer worn on the ear for completely hands-free wearable tech.
This latest advancement in the conquest to miniaturise wearable smart-tech is currently known as, 'Earclip-type Wearable PC'. Attaching to the ear, the device is fitted with infra-red sensors to monitor facial movements and interpret them into commands. With a raise of an eyebrow, the blink of an eye or a clench of the teeth you’ll be able to interact with the earpiece freeing up your hands for more important work.
Also squeezed into the tiny 17 gram gadget is a gyro-sensor, GPS, compass, barometer, speaker, microphone and a data chip to store user apps.
The Bluetooth enabled earpiece could be used as a control device for other smart-tech in a similar way to the Fin smart-ring unveiled earlier this year - except now eliminating the need for the hands altogether. For less manually able users this opens up immediate possibilities.
The Japanese team also hope to bring out a version of the earpiece to allow families to monitor elderly relatives. These units would double up as hearing aids and use onboard accelerometers that could tell if the wearer has fallen, in turn relaying a distress call to the ambulance service giving the GPS position.
In the wider consumer market there are early predictions for growth in ‘ear-wearables’. In-ear devices can take more accurate biometric measurements giving them an advantage over wrist and eyepieces for health and fitness applications. With voice command capability becoming more common-place we’re likely to see a rise in ear-insert technology. By their positioning they also naturally make for decent music-players.
The finalised earpiece from the Hiroshima University researchers is currently set to be on the market by April 2016. This year will see a lot of the big tech players getting into the wearable smart-tech space, so there'll be plenty to whet your appetite in the meantime.