Tuesday, 08 Jul, 2008 Technology

Japanese to Create New Generation Wearable Gadgets


Japan's predominant mobile phone operator, NTT DoCoMo, is currently developing a number of technologies to create "wearable" gadgets. The most impressive technologies that are being tested include: rolling your eyes to increase the volume on a portable music player and tapping fingers in order to switch on a DVD player.

According to Masaaki Fukumoto, executive research engineer at NTT DoCoMo, the technology linked with rolling eyeballs features sensors and chips within headphones that perceive the electrical current which is generated by the movements of the user's eyeballs.

"We are working on a cell phone of the future," outlined Mr. Fukumoto at a suburban Tokyo research center. The company hopes that the wearable control technology is going to be applied in mobile gadgets that download music, play video games and allow users to do shopping on-line and be aware of the received letters from their e-mail.

Last month the company demonstrated the abilities of one of its gadgets. Hiroyuki Manabe, a researcher, working for NTT DoCoMo, wore a huge headset which was covered with wires to illustrate the way computer-generated lines within a monitor, connected to the headset, darted whenever he made a movement with his eyeballs. He was able to increase the volume on a digital music player by simply rolling his eyes. In addition, whenever he wanted to apply fast-forward function he just tweaked his eyes twice to the right.

According to the researchers, the new technology will make it possible for the mobile phone cameras to read bar codes for receiving data and download music when a person just looks at the codes. Mr. Fukumoto presented a wearable cell phone that has the shape of a ring and the size of a ball for ping-pong. Whenever a user sticks fingers in his years, the sound waves start traveling like vibrations through his bones and into his ears, where user hears it as sound again.

The company also presented a wristwatch able to identify the tapping of a user's thumb and forefinger in order to turn on such devices as a DVD player.

"Japanese don't like to stand out," said Mr. Fukumoto, adding that it is still uncertain whether such technology is going to be transformed into real products.

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