Even if you haven't seen Her, you've probably come across one of the million thinkpieces it's inspired. How realistic is the tech future it depicts? When can we expect to buy our own intelligent computer operating system? How long till somebody tries to have sex with it? Important question: will Scarlett Johansson be available to provide the voice?
But the vision of the future constructed in Her might be closer to reality than you think. A Japanese scientist from Hiroshima City University has created the prototype for a wearable computer that eerily resembles the ear-mounted PC worn by Theodore Twombly, the lonely protagonist of Spike Jonze's film.
Inventor Kazuhiro Taniguchi calls his device an Ear Switch. Wearers can control the device simply by biting down or moving their jaw. The Bluetooth-enabled device uses infrared waves to detect when the wearer opens and closes his mouth: movements that send corresponding commands back to the device. This means that you could plausibly control apps simply by moving your head: Tanigushi pictures a series of hands-free applications – a tourist, for instance, could launch an audio explanation of an attraction just by turning their head towards the landmark.
The prototype also contains GPS, a compass, barometer, microphone and speaker. The video, below, shows how easily the Ear Switch can assimilate into daily life: tucked subtly behind one ear, the device is barely visible. It's already been dubbed "Google Glass for your ears", and it might actually be a far more feasible form for wearable computing. As Google Glass wearers come under attack (in some cases, even literally) for using the obtrusive computing device, the Ear Switch offers a far more discreet solution.
According to a report in Japanese newspaper Nikkei, Taniguchi already has plans to partner with a private company to launch the earpiece in 2015.
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