Researchers Teach Morse Code In 4 Hours Via Google Glass

October 31, 2016 - Written By Mihai Matei

Google Glass is somewhat of an odd technological experiment and throughout the product’s development process it has been the source of criticism as well as exciting new developments in the field of augmented reality and optical HMDs (head-mounted displays). Although the product’s future is uncertain from a consumer point of view, medics, developers and researchers continue to find interesting uses for Google Glass, and as a prime example of that we have a new story involving researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who have built a system that can teach Morse code to Google Glass wearers in a matter of hours.

Morse code is one of the most wide-spread languages created by humans and has contributed to shaping up the concept of long-range communications. It is a fairly simple language in which normal alphabet letters are translated into long and short signals – be it audio or visual signals – represented by short or long beeps / dots and dashes, and over the past two centuries the language has been used in a variety of fields, including warfare. Now, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have devised a system allowing Google Glass wearers who are unfamiliar with Morse code to quickly learn the language simply by playing games. Throughout the process, researchers have used Google Glass technologies, including the device’s built-in speaker and bone conduction transducer to name letters and play associated Morse code signals to test participants wearing Google Glass. Interestingly enough, half the participants also experienced physical taps between their temple and ear (through Google Glass) in relation to letters and Morse code signals, and after 4 hours of testing and playing the games, participants have registered an accuracy of 94% in writing sentences using Morse code, and were 98% accurate when writing the code for each letter. In contrast, the other participants who have not been exposed to physical taps have registered an accuracy of approximately 50%.

As far as practical uses are concerned, they may not be that many considering the status of Google Glass. Citing Georgia Tech Professor, Thad Starner, who led the research together with Ph.D. student Caitlyn Seim, “Does this new study mean that people will rush out to learn Morse code? Probably not […]” but the study “shows that passive haptic learning lowers the barrier to learn text-entry methods – something we need for smartwatches and any text-entry that doesn’t require you to look at your device or keyboard”. If anything, the study shows that technology can be used to improve learning and to better ourselves if used correctly.