Get Your Tweets Without Looking

Head-mounted displays range from cumbersome to glass-hole-ish. Smart watches have their niche, but they still take your eyes away from whatever you are doing, like driving. Voice assistants can read to you, but they require a speaker that everyone else in the car has to listen to, or a headset that blocks out important sound. Ignoring incoming messages is out of the question so the answer may be to use a different sense than vision. A joint project between Facebook Inc. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have a solution which uses the somatosensory reception of your forearm.

A similar idea came across our desk years ago and seemed promising, but it is hard to sell something that is more difficult than the current technique, even if it is advantageous in the long run. In 2013, a wearer had his or her back covered in vibrator motors, and it acted like the haptic version of a spectrum analyzer. Now, the vibrators have been reduced in number to fit under a sleeve by utilizing patterns. It is being developed for people with hearing or vision impairment but what drivers aren’t impaired while looking at their phones?

Patterns are what really set this version apart. Rather than relaying a discrete note on a finger, or a range of values across the back, the 39 English phenomes are given a unique sequence of vibrations which is enough to encode any word. A phenome phoneme is the smallest distinct unit of speech. The video below shows how those phonemes are translated to haptic feedback. Hopefully, we can send tweets without using our hands or mouths to upgrade to complete telepathy.

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A Smartphone Dock for your Arm? Why Not?

Why not that is, if you have a prosthetic arm. Although it’s hard to believe we haven’t seen this before, [Trevor Prideaux], according to [The Telegraph’s] article, “has become the world’s first ever patient to have a smartphone docking system built into his prosthetic arm.”

[Trevor] was born without a forearm, and, as he puts it, he’s used to adapting to things.  However, he thought others might be struggling with the same problem, especially those that become disabled later in life. Once their help was secured, Nokia and the Exeter Mobility Centre got to work on his new limb and produced a prototype in five weeks!

[Trevor] is quite pleased with his new phone docking system. Texting especially is much easier and safer, and the phone can be removed when needed for making calls. We love to see hacks like this where people enhance their abilities using technology! For another hack helping those with disabilities, check out this wheelchair elevator/winch made for a non-accessible apartment.

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