Control an iPod with Your Teeth!
Researchers at Japan's Osaka University have developed a technology that is sure to be a boon to the handicapped and terminally lazy: a headset rigged with a small computer and infrared sensors that detect when the wearer clenches his teeth. These mouth movements are then translated by the headset into commands for controlling MP3 players and other devices -- a technology that could potentially allow a paralyzed person to place cell phone calls or dial 911 in an emergency without assistance.
But, wait a minute, hasn't disabled super scientist Stephen Hawking been using a contraption like this for years now? Actually, Hawking, whose body is deteriorating as a result of Motor Neuron disease, uses a system that tracks his blinking. Attached to his glasses is a device that emits a low-powered infrared beam. When Hawking blinks, his cheek muscle changes the reflection of the beam ever so slightly, which is interpreted as computer commands.
While the system Hawking uses is made to specifically interact with devices that aid the handicapped, the Japanese team intends to first market its product for casual use with lazy iPods owners, and then someday maybe adapt it to wheel chairs.
So, goodbye chewing gum, right? Well, according to the researchers, the headset's software is able to differentiate between normal chewing and the overtly intentional clenches meant to control the device ... though there's no word yet if that claim has passed the mouthful of peanut butter test.
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