Tiny sen­sor of­fers new con­trol over ev­ery­day life

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By TAN YINGZI in Chongqing tany­ingzi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A team of Chi­nese sci­en­tists re­cently in­vented a mi­cro­mo­tion sen­sor that al­lows peo­ple to con­trol de­vices and type text by blink­ing their eyes, ac­cord­ing to a pa­per pub­lished in an in­ter­na­tional sci­ence jour­nal.

The sen­sor is fixed to special eye­glasses and ap­plied through two real-time hu­man-ma­chine in­ter­faces — a smart home con­trol sys­tem and a wire­less hands-free typ­ing sys­tem.

It makes di­rect con­tact with the wearer’s skin around the eyes and re­sponds to changes in pres­sure when the wearer blinks in­ten­tion­ally to trig­ger a com­puter re­sponse.

“It is like a third hand,” said Hu Chen­guo, of Chongqing Univer­sity’s Depart­ment of Ap­plied Physics, who led the re­search.

She said the sen­sor can help peo­ple con­trol de­vices when both hands are oc­cu­pied, or help peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to com­mu­ni­cate and per­form daily tasks.

Hu­man-ma­chine in­ter­faces, or HMIs, in­volve com­mu­ni­ca­tion between a per­son and an ex­ter­nal de­vice. But the skin-sens­ing in­ter­faces based on bio sig­nals have been de­vel­op­ing slowly, ow­ing to the low sig­nal-tonoise ra­tio and poor sta­bil­ity, Hu said.

In the new study, Hu and col­leagues de­signed a sen­sor based on what’s called a tri­bo­elec­tric nano­gen­er­a­tor — or TENG — to de­tect the mo­tion of the skin around the cor­ners of eyes, which she said “has never been con­sid­ered as a good trig­ger sig­nal source”.

“When the TENG sen­sor is at­tached to the in­side of the

FU XIAOZHU / FOR CHINA DAILY

A test sub­ject con­trols a vir­tual light bulb by blink­ing while wear­ing a pair of special eye­glasses with a new kind of mi­crosen­sor.

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