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emerging technologies

Shaking The World: Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation as a Novel Sensation Interface

A novel sensation interface device that uses galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) to control balance. The device induces vection (virtual sense of acceleration) synchronized with optic flow or musical rhythms.

Art and Science

This device directly supports non-verbal human behavior. Its most direct application is in walking guidance and postural support. Other possible applications include automatic avoidance of collisions or falls, GPS-guided walking navigation, and pedestrian flow control. It can also provide a novel shared kinetic-sensation interface.


To communicate nonverbal feelings such as kinetic senses, which can not be shared conventionally, and to demonstrate and create awareness of the use of GVS as a novel sensation media.


There is no feeling of enforced action. Because users are navigated very naturally and almost unconsciously, they are not distracted by the stimulation and are aware that their behavior was an effect of the stimulation only afterward.

The device provides a virtual sense of acceleration without an expensive mechanical platform synchronized to the flow of movies.

When the stimulation is synchronized to musical rhythms, the device provides a very amazing experience. Especially when stimulation is at a high frequency (more than 1~2 Hz), users feel as if their visual fields and bodies are tremblingly along with the rhythm.


One implication of this technology is its possible role in maintaining safety standards for electrical stimulation. Popularization of ubiquitous technology is another, because it would be useful for crowd control to have people walk in the same direction and sway to avoid collisions.

This technology could also become an important component of wearable computers. In future applicaitons, vection reproduction by GVS may be a standard function of communication, like sound reproduction in mobile telephones or portable music players.


Taro Maeda
NTT Communication Science Laboratories
maeda (at)


Hideyuki Ando
Tomohiro Amemiya
NTT Communication Science Laboratories

Masahiko Inami
Naohisa Nagaya
Maki Sugimoto
The University of Electro-Communications