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Controlling tech with your breath

|27 January 2017|


Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed a variety of innovative ways to control smartwatches – including with your breath.

Using LG and Sony watches a team, led by Ph.D. student Gabriel Reyes, created a pioneering hands-free option to control the smart device. He took inspiration from watching his wife blow a piece of fuzz off her phone while holding their newborn son. The students went on to create Whoosh, a technique which means an individual can blow, shush, exhale, sip or puff on a screen to control it. The watch uses its microphone and machine learning to identify the breath patterns of each acoustic event, then assigns an action to each. For example, a wearer can shush the watch to ignore a call or blow on it twice to accept.

The team are delighted they’ve proven the technology works and believe it could have potential for people with disabilities.

Gabriel said: “The sip and puff technique has been used to control wheelchairs,” he said. “Perhaps Whoosh could be the foundation for developers looking for ways that allow more control for those who can’t easily interact with their mobile and wearable devices.”

Selecting numbers by tapping the back of your hand and scrolling through apps running your fingers along the watch band were some of the other innovative techniques the team demonstrated in their research presented at a series of conferences last year.

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Written By

Iain is an experienced writer, journalist and lecturer, who held editorships with a number of business focussed publications before co-founding and becoming editor of Innovators Magazine. Iain is also the strategic director for OnePoint5Media.


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