Japan developing remote control for humans

CNN.com – Japan developing remote control for humans – Oct 25, 2005:

Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., Japans top telephone company, says it is developing the technology to perhaps make video games more realistic.

A special headset was placed on my cranium by my hosts during a recent demonstration at an NTT research center. It sent a very low voltage electric current from the back of my ears through my head — either from left to right or right to left, depending on which way the joystick on a remote-control was moved.

I found the experience unnerving and exhausting: I sought to step straight ahead but kept careening from side to side. Those alternating currents literally threw me off.

The technology is called galvanic vestibular stimulation — essentially, electricity messes with the delicate nerves inside the ear that help maintain balance.

I felt a mysterious, irresistible urge to start walking to the right whenever the researcher turned the switch to the right. I was convinced — mistakenly — that this was the only way to maintain my balance.

The phenomenon is painless but dramatic. Your feet start to move before you know it. I could even remote-control myself by taking the switch into my own hands.

Amusing but useless IMO.

(Via Robin.)

Comments 2

  1. clemens wrote:

    I’ve seen this at this years SIGGRAPH emerging technology expo and must say I was *very* impressed. I was too chicken to try it out myself at first, and when I finally decided to give it a try there was a >100 persons queue.
    The coolest usage of this device was for giving you a sense of acceleration/deceleration/centrifugal force in a driving game.
    All they have to solve now is the slight headache you have after using it ;)

    Posted 29 Oct 2005 at 13:51
  2. Jurie Horneman wrote:

    Hmm… that explains the glassy look in your eyes since then… and the monotone voice… and why you tried to put my finger into an electrical outlet :P

    Posted 29 Oct 2005 at 13:59