Daryl Lindsey
April 10, 2017 1:02 pm

As our phones get smarter and smarter, so do the ways we can control our devices without using our hands. Developments like Siri and Bixby were total game changers – but what if we could control our phones with something simple, like a smile or nod?

Denys Matthies, a Ph.D. student at Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research in Rostock, Germany, is asking that question.

Matthies and his team are developing a pair of super-smart earbuds that, when paired with a smartphone, can recognize facial expressions and complete certain commands. These commands could be as simple as inserting a corresponding emoji into a text, or answering and declining phone calls.

The prototype for the system can recognize five expressions: Turning your head, opening your mouth, making a “shh” noise, smiling, and winking. The accuracy is about 90 percent, but goes down a few points if you’re on the move.

According to Matthies, there is no plan for a commercial rollout of this project yet, which is a research project for his PhD. Still, the project hints at big things on the horizon in the smart-phone world.