You are currently viewing Pondering past audio: Augmenting headphones for on a regular basis digital interactions

Pondering past audio: Augmenting headphones for on a regular basis digital interactions

This analysis was accepted by and obtained a Finest Paper Award throughout ACM Designing Interactive Techniques (DIS) 2023, which is devoted to advancing the sphere of user-centered system design.

Headphones are historically used to offer and handle audio experiences via bodily controls and a spread of sensors. Nonetheless, these controls and sensors have remained confined to audio enter and output performance, reminiscent of adjusting the amount or muting the microphone. Think about if headphones may transcend their function as mere audio units. 

As a result of headphones rank among the many hottest wearables out there, now we have an thrilling alternative to increase their capabilities via integrating current sensors with supplementary ones to allow all kinds of experiences that transcend conventional audio management. In our paper, “Past Audio: In direction of a Design House of Headphones as a Web site for Interplay and Sensing,” we share a imaginative and prescient that explores this potential.

Through the use of sensors reminiscent of microphones, proximity sensors, movement sensors, inertial measurement models (IMUs), and LiDARs, headphone designers can discover new avenues of enter and interplay. The truth that headphones are worn on an individual’s head permits for a variety of functions, reminiscent of following head actions, physique postures, and hand gestures. Moreover, as wearable units, headphones have the potential to offer wearers with context-rich info and allow extra intuitive and immersive interactions with their units and atmosphere past conventional button-based controls.

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Potential eventualities for sensor-enhanced headphones 

To discover this idea additional, we suggest augmenting headphones with further sensors and enter widgets. These embody: 

  • IMUs to sense head orientation
  • Swappable units of enter controls  
  • A spread-sensing LiDAR that permits the sensing of hand gestures

By incorporating these capabilities, we envision a variety of functions the place headphone enter acts as a bridge between the individual sporting it and their atmosphere and allow extra environment friendly and context-aware interactions amongst a number of units and duties. For instance, a headphone may help folks with functions like video video games or assist handle interruptions throughout a video name.  

Let’s discover some eventualities as an instance the potential of our headphone design idea. Think about an individual engaged in a video name with teammates when they’re instantly interrupted by a colleague who approaches in individual. On this scenario, our headphones could be geared up to detect contextual cues, reminiscent of when the wearer rotates their head away from a video name, signaling a shift in consideration. In response, the headphones may robotically blur the video feed and mute the microphone to guard the wearer’s privateness, as proven in Determine 1. This function may additionally talk to different contributors that the wearer is briefly engaged in one other dialog or exercise. When the wearer returns their consideration to the decision, the system removes the blur and reactivates the microphone.

Figure 1: Two videos side-by-side showing the headphones in a context-aware privacy-control scenario. On the left, there is an over-the-shoulder view of a wearer participating in a video call on a laptop. As he looks away from the call, the laptop screen changes color, and the application is muted, depicted by a mute icon overlayed on the video. As the wearer looks back at the screen, it becomes unblurred and a unmute icon is overlaid on the image, indicating the mute has been turned off. On the right, we see the laptop screen previously described.
Determine 1. These movies illustrate a context-aware privateness management system carried out throughout a video convention. On this state of affairs, the wearer briefly disengages from the video convention to interact in an in-person dialog. After a predefined interval, the system detects the wearer’s continued consideration directed away from any identified machine, bearing in mind the atmosphere context. In consequence, privateness measures are triggered, together with video blurring, microphone muting, and notifying different contributors on the decision. As soon as the wearer re-engages with the display screen, their video and microphone settings return to regular, making certain a seamless expertise.

In one other privacy-focused state of affairs, think about an individual concurrently conversing with a number of teammates in separate video name channels. Our headphone design permits the wearer to manage to whom their speech is directed by merely taking a look at their meant viewers, as proven in Determine 2. This directed speech interplay can prolong past video calls and be utilized to different contexts, reminiscent of sending focused voice instructions to teammates in a multiplayer online game.

DIS 2023 - Figure 2: Two videos side-by-side showing the wearer controlling where his input is being sent among a multitude of devices. On the left, a video shows an over-the-shoulder view of a wearer interacting with a monitor and aptop while wearing headphones. There are two separate video calls on each screen. As the wearer turns from one screen to another, a large microphone icon appears on the screen at which the wearer is looking, and a muted microphone icon is shown on the other screen.

The video on the right shows an over-the-shoulder view of a wearer interacting with a laptop while wearing headphones. The laptop screen shows a video game and four circular icons on each corner depicting the other players. The user looks at the bottom left of the screen, which enlarges the icon of the teammate in that corner, and the wearer starts to speak. The wearer then looks at the top-right of the screen, and the teammate in that corner is highlighted while the wearer speaks.
Determine 2. Headphones monitor the wearer’s head pose, seamlessly facilitating the distribution of video and/or audio throughout a number of non-public chats. They successfully talk the wearer’s availability to different contributors, whether or not in a video conferencing state of affairs (left) or a gaming state of affairs (proper).

In our paper, we additionally show how socially recognizable gestures can introduce new types of audio-visual management as a substitute of relying solely on on-screen controls. For instance, wearers may work together with media via gestural actions, reminiscent of cupping their ear in the direction of the audio supply to extend the amount whereas concurrently lowering ambient noise, as proven in Determine 3. These gestures, ingrained in social and cultural contexts, can function each management mechanisms and nonverbal communication alerts.

DIS 2023 - Fig 3 - image showing gestural controls for volume
Determine 3. Prime: Elevating the earcup, a generally used gesture to deal with in-person interruptions, mutes each the sound and the microphone to make sure privateness. Backside: Cupping the earcup, a gesture indicating issue listening to, will increase the system quantity.

Moreover, we are able to estimate the wearer’s head gaze via the usage of an IMU. When mixed with the bodily location of computing units within the wearer’s neighborhood, it opens up potentialities for seamless interactions throughout a number of units. As an example, throughout a video name, the wearer can share the display screen of the machine they’re actively specializing in. On this state of affairs, the wearer shifts their consideration from an exterior monitor to a pill machine. Despite the fact that this pill just isn’t straight linked to the primary laptop computer, our system easily transitions the display screen sharing for the wearer’s viewers within the video name, as proven in Determine 4.

DIS 2023 - Figure 4: Two videos side-by-side showing a headphone wearer among a multitude of devices controlling which screen is shared in a video call. The video on the left shows an over-the-shoulder view of a person interacting with three screens—a monitor, a laptop, and a tablet—while wearing headphones. A video call is in progress on the laptop, and the wearer is giving a presentation, which appears as a slide on the attached monitor. As the wearer turns from the laptop screen to the monitor, the presentation slide appears on the shared laptop screen. The video on the right shows an over-the-shoulder view of the person interacting with three screens—a monitor, a laptop, and a tablet—while wearing headphones. We see the wearer looking at the monitor with a presentation slide, which is mirrored on the laptop screen. He then turns from the monitor to the tablet, which has a drawing app open. As he does this, the drawing app appears on the shared laptop screen. The wearer uses a pen to draw on the tablet, and this is mirrored on the laptop. Finally, the wearer looks up from the tablet to the laptop, and the laptop screen switches to the video call view with the participants’ videos.
Determine 4. A wearer delivers a presentation utilizing a video conferencing instrument. Because the wearer seems at totally different units, the streamed video dynamically updates to show the related supply to contributors.

Lastly, in our paper we additionally present the usage of embodied interactions, the place the wearer’s physique actions serve to animate a digital illustration of themselves, reminiscent of an avatar in a video name, as proven in Determine 5. This function will also be carried out as a gameplay mechanism. Take a racing recreation for example, the place the wearer’s physique actions may management the car’s steering, proven on the left in Determine 6. To increase this functionality, these actions may allow a wearer to peek round obstacles in any first-person recreation, enhancing the immersion and gameplay expertise, proven on the appropriate in Determine 6.

DIS 2023 - Figure 5: Two videos showing a headphone wearer controlling an avatar in a video call through head movements. The video on the left shows an over-the-shoulder view of a headphones wearer interacting with another participant on the call. The video on the right shows a wearer using a touch control to depict an emotion in his avatar.
Determine 5. Left: Headphones use an IMU to watch and seize pure physique actions, that are then translated into corresponding avatar actions. Proper: Contact controls built-in into headphones allow wearers to evoke a spread of feelings on the avatar, enhancing the consumer expertise.
DIS 2023 - Figure 6: Two videos showing a wearer playing a video game while leaning left and right. These movements control his character’s movements, enabling him to duck and peek around walls.
Determine 6. Leaning whereas sporting the headphone (with an built-in IMU) has a direct impression on recreation play motion. On the left, it ends in swerving the automotive to the facet, whereas on the appropriate, in allows the participant to duck behind a wall.

Design house for headphone interactions 

We outline a design house for interactive headphones via an exploration of two distinct ideas, which we focus on in depth in our paper.

First, we have a look at the kind of enter gesture for the interplay, which we additional classify into three classes. The gestural enter from the wearer would possibly fall underneath a number of of those classes, which we define in additional element beneath and illustrate in Determine 7.

  • Contact-based gestures that contain tangible inputs on the headphones, reminiscent of buttons or knobs, requiring bodily contact by the wearer
  • Mid-air gestures, which the wearer makes with their arms in shut proximity to the headphones, detected via LiDAR expertise
  • Head orientation, indicating the path of the wearer’s consideration
DIS 2023 - Figure 7: List of three stylized images showing the three main kinds of gestures we look at: touch, head orientation, and mid-air gestures.
Determine 7. Sensor-enhanced headphones can use touch-based gestures (left), head orientation (center), or mid-air gestures (proper) as kinds of enter.

The second method that we outline the design house is thru the context inside which the wearer executes the motion. Right here, design concerns for sensor-enhanced headphones transcend consumer intentionality and noticed movement. Context-awareness allows these headphones to know the wearer’s actions, the functions they’re engaged with, and the units of their neighborhood, as illustrated in Determine 8. This understanding allows the headphones to offer personalised experiences and seamlessly combine with the wearer’s atmosphere. The 4 classes that outline this context-awareness are comprised of the next: 

  • Context-free actions, which produce comparable outcomes whatever the lively utility, the wearer’s exercise, or the social or bodily atmosphere.  
  • Context that’s outlined by the appliance with which the wearer is interacting. For instance, are they listening to music, on a video name, or watching a film?  
  • Context that’s outlined by the wearer’s physique. For instance, is the wearer’s gesture near a physique half that has an related that means? Eyes would possibly relate to visible capabilities, ears to audio enter, and the mouth to audio output. 
  • Context that’s outlined by the wearer’s atmosphere. For instance, are there different units or folks across the wearer with whom they could need to work together?
DIS 2023 - Figure 8: Diagram showing the different levels of context we look at: context free, application, user's body, and the environment.
Determine 8. The system makes use of various contextual info to allow personalised responses to consumer enter.

Trying forward: Increasing the probabilities of HCI with on a regular basis wearables  

Sensor-enhanced headphones provide a promising avenue for designers to create immersive and context-aware consumer experiences. By incorporating sensors, these headphones can seize refined consumer behaviors, facilitating seamless interactions and enhancing the wearer’s general expertise.  

From safeguarding privateness to offering intuitive management mechanisms, the potential functions for sensor-enhanced headphones are huge and thrilling. This exploration with headphones scratches the floor of what context-aware wearable expertise can empower its wearers to realize. Think about the multitude of wearables we use day-after-day that might profit from integrating comparable sensing and interplay capabilities into these units. For instance, think about a watch that may monitor your hand actions and detect gestures. By enabling communication between sensor-enhanced wearables, we are able to set up a cohesive ecosystem for human-computer interplay that spans throughout functions, units, and social contexts.

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