EarRumble: Discreet Hands- and Eyes-Free Input by Voluntary Tensor Tympani Muscle Contraction

Tobias Röddiger, Christopher Clarke, Daniel Wolffram, Matthias Budde, Michael Beigl

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding

9 Citations (SciVal)
666 Downloads (Pure)


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 classifer 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-efort and discreet eyes-and hands-free interaction technique that users found magical and almost telepathic.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationMaking Waves, Combining Strengths
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781450380966
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


  • Discreet interaction
  • Earables
  • Hearables
  • In-ear barometry
  • Subtle gestures
  • Tensor tympani muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Software


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