Innovative Ideas

'Earswitch' could allow people with neurological conditions to communicate using a hidden ear muscle.

Earswitch Ltd. has developed a prototype that allows people to communicate by tensing a tiny muscle to operate an assistive keyboard, like the one used by the late Professor Stephen Hawking. But whereas for Stephen Hawking communication relied on him tensing a muscle in his cheek, this new device uses a tiny, hidden muscle in the ear.

The device is linked to the tensor tympani muscle, which for some can be controlled voluntarily. This muscle is one of the smallest in the body and was once thought to help protect the eardrum from loud noise.

Edition 70, January 2022