Saturday, October 29, 2005

I Really Need Control Of The Remote Now...

Egad, this is creepy...
Prepare to be remotely controlled. I was.

Just imagine being rendered the rough equivalent of a radio-controlled toy car.

(snip)

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.

There's no proven-beyond-a-doubt explanation yet as to why people start veering when electricity hits their ear. But NTT researchers say they were able to make a person walk along a route in the shape of a giant pretzel using this technique.

It's a mesmerizing sensation similar to being drunk or melting into sleep under the influence of anesthesia. But it's more definitive, as though an invisible hand were reaching inside your brain.

The article also talks about potential non-lethal military applications:
Timothy Hullar, assistant professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., believes finding the right way to deliver an electromagnetic field to the ear at a distance could turn the technology into a weapon for situations where "killing isn't the best solution."

"This would be the most logical situation for a nonlethal weapon that presumably would make your opponent dizzy," he said via e-mail. "If you find just the right frequency, energy, duration of application, you would hope to find something that doesn't permanently injure someone but would allow you to make someone temporarily off-balance."

Indeed, a small defense contractor in Texas, Invocon Inc., is exploring whether precisely tuned electromagnetic pulses could be safely fired into people's ears to temporarily subdue them.

I'm not really sure what to make of any of this, other than that it weirds me right the hell out. And as for it being "non-lethal," that could depend on timing and context - imagine using it on a fighter pilot, or to assassinate someone lounging on a high-rise balcony.

5 comments:

Neil Shakespeare said...

Wow. Well, i guess i'll stop lounging on high-rise balconies now. Nice weapon tough. We can throw 'em off balance, then taser the fuckers so we can get close enough to stick an M-80 up their ass. Lovely.

oldwhitelady said...

Hmmmm... It is weird... and interesting... I wish I could control other people. I wish I could control my cats. I wish I could control myself. I hate those control top panty hose. Hee hee...

Eli, the post was kind of scary, even.

The Kenosha Kid said...

Photo of the experiment.

Marcia Brady said...

I think I should put in an order for one of those devices. May come in handy.

flory said...

I'm not really sure what to make of any of this, other than that it weirds me right the hell out.

And a lot of why it weirds me out is because I'm left wondering what Phase II, III, IV and V will be....