Remote controlled humans might sound a bizarre and nightmarish prospect, but Japanese researchers hope to harness the trick for computer gaming.
By remotely stimulating a person’s vestibular system – the fluid-filled tubes in the inner ear that guide their sense of balance – with electrodes placed on the skin just below the ear, researchers at NTT’s research laboratories in Kanagawa have found a way to turn humans into oversized radio controlled vehicles.
The technique, known as galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS), unbalances a person so that they automatically veer left or right in an attempt to rebalance themselves. The NTT team developed a headset and a control unit similar to that used with remote-controlled toy cars.
The research project went on public display at the 2005 SIGGRAPH, in Los Angeles, US from 2 August. Volunteers were given a chance to experience GVS and, to the amusement of other visitors, were seen careening around the show floor under demonstrators’ control.