'Human Cruise Control' Uses Electrodes to Steer People in the Right Direction

"Human cruise control" may be the future of navigation, freeing us from latching our eyes at our smartphones for directions and, instead, concentrating on the journey.

The smartwatch has been a first attempt by developers to bring consumers back to the world — it's a device that allows users to glance at their wrists to see just the important notifications. If the smartwatch is any indication as to how the smartphone will be utilized in the future, it'll act as a kind of hub for other, less disruptive devices.


Take the “human cruise control” a group of German researchers are working on. According to Rachel Metz from MIT Technology Review, who reported on the study, the device will allow consumers to focus on the journey, rather than their five-inch screens when they're getting GPS directions.

The technology electrically stimulates a person's legs to direct them where they're supposed to go. If adopted by a wide consumer base, it would alleviate much of New York City's sidewalk-rage over people stopping in the middle of the walkway to look at their phones for directions.

The researchers tested the device by placing it around a group of participants' sartorius muscles, which run across the thigh. The device uses electrical stimulation to steer people — it feels “like a tingle that lessens over time,” according to Max Pfeiffer, one of the co-authors of the study.

The participants were blindfolded and led by the researchers, who weren't far behind, giving them directions through the device. However, two of the participants couldn't feel anything when researchers actuated their muscles, leaving 11 people. Researchers were able to steer these remaining participants well enough that they moved the trials to the great outdoors.

The device still has a ways to go; first, the researchers need to program the device to understand directions from a GPS app rather than a human pushing buttons. Next on the list would be making the device less clunky. Metz writes that the ones used in the study “were bulky and noticeable, especially when combined with the electrical muscle-stimulation control unit."

Read more about the study at MIT Technology Review.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • Push Past Negative Self-Talk: Give Yourself the Proper Fuel to Attack the World, with David Goggins, Former NAVY SealIf you've ever spent 5 minutes trying to meditate, you know something most people don't realize: that our minds are filled, much of the time, with negative nonsense. Messaging from TV, from the news, from advertising, and from difficult daily interactions pulls us mentally in every direction, insisting that we focus on or worry about this or that. To start from a place of strength and stability, you need to quiet your mind and gain control. For former NAVY Seal David Goggins, this begins with recognizing all the negative self-messaging and committing to quieting the mind. It continues with replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.

Why the south of Westeros is the north of Ireland

As Game of Thrones ends, a revealing resolution to its perplexing geography.

Image: YouTube / Doosh
Strange Maps
  • The fantasy world of Game of Thrones was inspired by real places and events.
  • But the map of Westeros is a good example of the perplexing relation between fantasy and reality.
  • Like Britain, it has a Wall in the North, but the map only really clicks into place if you add Ireland.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • Master Execution: How to Get from Point A to Point B in 7 Steps, with Rob Roy, Retired Navy SEALUsing the principles of SEAL training to forge better bosses, former Navy SEAL and founder of the Leadership Under Fire series Rob Roy, a self-described "Hammer", makes people's lives miserable in the hopes of teaching them how to be a tougher—and better—manager. "We offer something that you are not going to get from reading a book," says Roy. "Real leaders inspire, guide and give hope."Anybody can make a decision when everything is in their favor, but what happens in turbulent times? Roy teaches leaders, through intense experiences, that they can walk into any situation and come out ahead. In this lesson, he outlines seven SEAL-tested steps for executing any plan—even under extreme conditions or crisis situations.