The symmetric configuration and the sensitivity of ears in addition to the long tradition of earrings as adornment open up the possibility for smart ear-worn devices. Taking advantage of these attributes, past research mostly focused on creating novel unobtrusive sensing input devices and auditory displays placed on the ear. Meanwhile, the tactile sensitivity of the ear has long been overshadowed by its auditory capacity, presenting the opportunity to investigate how ears can be exploited for unobtrusive tactile information transfer. With three studies and a total of 38 participants, we suggest the design of ActivEarring, a ear-worn device capable of imparting information by stimulating six different locations on both ears. We evaluated the performance of ActivEarring in a semi-realistic mobile condition and its practical use for information transfer with spatiotemporal patterns. Finally, we demonstrate that ActivEarring can be incorporated in common jewelry design, and present three applications that illustrate promising usage scenarios.
Minkyeong Lee, Seungwoo Je, Woojin Lee, Daniel Ashbrook and Andrea Bianchi, “ActivEarring: Spatiotemporal Haptic Cues on the Ears”, in IEEE Transactions on Haptics. IN IEEE Transactions on Haptics. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1109/TOH.2019.2925799