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 in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


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".
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication statusAcceptance date - 20 Jan 2021

Publication series

NameCHI Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Electronic)2159-6468

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