We explore how discreet input can be provided using the tensor tympani-a small muscle in the middle ear that some people can voluntarily contract to induce a dull rumbling sound. We investigate the prevalence and ability to control the muscle through an online questionnaire (N= 192) in which 43.2% of respondents reported the ability to” ear rumble”. Data collected from participants (N= 16) shows how in-ear barometry can be used to detect voluntary tensor tympani contraction in the sealed ear canal. This data was used to train a classifier based on three simple ear rumble” gestures” which achieved 95% accuracy. Finally, we evaluate the use of ear rumbling for interaction, grounded in three manual, dual-task application scenarios (N= 8). This highlights the applicability of EarRumble as a low-effort and discreet eyes-and hands-free interaction technique that users found” magical” and” almost telepathic”.
Tobias Röddiger, Christopher Clarke, Daniel Wolffram, Matthias Budde, Michael Beigl