Wednesday October 16, 2019
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You Would be Able to Unlock Your Smartphone with Earbuds Soon

The information gathered by the microphone is sent by the earbuds’ Bluetooth connection to the smartphone where it is analysed

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Soon you may be able to unlock your smartphone with earbuds as researchers are developing a biometric tool to do that.

Besides reducing the need for passcodes, fingerprints, facial recognition and other biometrics, the tool called EarEcho would be ideal for situations where users are required to verify their identity such as making mobile payments.

It could also eliminate the need to re-enter passcodes or fingerprints when a phone locks up after not being used.

EarEcho, which works when users are listening to their earbuds, is a passive system, meaning users need not take any action, such as submitting a fingerprint or voice command, for it to work, said Zhanpeng Jin, Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo in New York.

EarEcho uses modified wireless earbuds to authenticate smartphone users via the unique geometry of their ear canal.

When a sound is played into someone’s ear, the sound propagates through and is reflected and absorbed by the ear canal — all of which produce a unique signature that can be recorded by the microphone, said the study published in the journal Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies.

“It doesn’t matter what the sound is, everyone’s ears are different and we can show that in the audio recording,” Jin said.

“This uniqueness can lead to a new way of confirming the identity of the user, equivalent to fingerprinting,” he said.

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Smartphones will be the most used mobile device category by the end of this year as India registered 484.7 million smartphones in use. Pixabay

A prototype of the system proved roughly 95 per cent effective, the researchers said.

The research team built the prototype with off-the-shelf products, including a pair of in-ear earphones and a tiny microphone.

They developed acoustic signal processing techniques to limit noise interference, and models to share information between EarEcho’s components.

The information gathered by the microphone is sent by the earbuds’ Bluetooth connection to the smartphone where it is analysed.

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To test the device, 20 participants listened to audio samples that included a variety of speech, music and other content.

EarEcho proved roughly 95 per cent effective when given one second to authenticate the subjects.

The score improved to 97.5 per cent when it continued to monitor the subject in three second windows, said the study. (IANS)

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Smartphone Addiction Comes First, Depression Later: Study

When people feel stressed, they should use other healthy approaches to cope, like talking to a close friend to get support or doing some exercises or meditation, the researchers suggested

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Over 74 per cent of people type with two thumbs, and the speed increase it offers is very large. Pixabay

In a bid to rest the debate on what comes first — smartphone addiction or depression — a new study has found that young people who are hooked on to their smartphones may be at an increased risk of depression and loneliness.

A growing body of research has identified a link between smartphone dependency and symptoms of depression and loneliness.

However, it’s been unclear whether reliance on smartphones precedes those symptoms, or whether the reverse is true — that depressed or lonely people are more likely to become dependent on their phones.

In a study of 346 participants, ages 18-20, researcher Matthew Lapierre and his collaborators from University of Arizona found that smartphone dependency predicts higher reports of depressive symptoms and loneliness, rather than the other way around.

“The main takeaway is that smartphone dependency directly predicts later depressive symptoms,” said Lapierre, assistant professor in the department of communication.

“There’s an issue where people are entirely too reliant on the device, in terms of feeling anxious if they don’t have it accessible, and they’re using it to the detriment of their day-to-day life.”

In the study, which will be published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Lapierre and his co-authors focus on smartphone dependency rather than on general smartphone use, which can actually provide benefits.

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Depression is among the leading causes of disability in the U.S. and is being closely monitored by health authorities amid rising suicides nationwide. Pixabay

Understanding the direction of the relationship between smartphone dependency and poor psychological outcomes is critical for knowing how best to address the problem, said Pengfei Zhao who co-authored the study.

“If depression and loneliness lead to smartphone dependency, we could reduce dependency by adjusting people’s mental health,” Zhao said.

“But if smartphone dependency (precedes depression and loneliness), which is what we found, we can reduce smartphone dependency to maintain or improve wellbeing.”

The researchers measured smartphone dependency by asking study participants to use a four-point scale to rate a series of statements, such as “I panic when I cannot use my smartphone.”

Also Read: Twitter Rolls out a New Filter for Direct Messages (DM)

The study focused on older adolescents, a population researchers say is important because they largely grew up with smartphones and they are at an age and transitional stage in life where they are vulnerable to poor mental health outcomes, such as depression.

“It might be easier for late adolescents to become dependent on smartphones, and smartphones may have a bigger negative influence on them because they are already very vulnerable to depression or loneliness,” Zhao noted.

When people feel stressed, they should use other healthy approaches to cope, like talking to a close friend to get support or doing some exercises or meditation, the researchers suggested. (IANS)