Media Technology MSc

Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation in Daily Activities (2011)

Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation in Daily Activities

In a rather bizarre graduation project, student Antal Ruhl investigated electrical (galvanic) stimulation of the human balance organ (vestibular system) during everyday activities.

Stimulating the human balance system

Although long known as a technique to stimulate the human balance system, galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) has only relatively recently gained interest as a tool amongst artists and scientists. For example, it was used as a game interface, as an interactive artwork, for remote controlling people, for navigational purposes, and in numerous scientific experiments studying the human balance system in the brain.

Building his own GVS device

After building his own GVS device (with help from body-manipulation artist Arthur Elsenaar), Antal experimented with stick-balancing, walking-over-a-beam, playing Wii games, reading-on-a-bus, and more tasks. His study focuses on the effect of vestibular stimulation in everyday life and its suitability as a human-computer interaction technology. How does an altered balance system change our daily functioning. He focused especially on when the distortion in balance is dependent on head rotation, in order to create a meaningful relationship between the perceived balance and actual body orientation. Do we adapt to new situations? Do we perform better over time? Could it help us to improve certain tasks instead of deteriorate? Antal Ruhl's results were presented at the 2011 Computer-Human Interaction Netherlands conference (CHI Sparks 2011).