Human remote raises concern

We’ve heard of remote controls for TV’s and CD players, but what about remote controls for humans?

According to a CNN article by Yuri Kageyama of the Associated Press, a remote control technology for humans may soon find its way into the video game industry and perhaps even real human existence. Kageyama who tested this new technology, said that the remote control system has been developed by Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (Japan’s leading telephone company,) to “make video games more realistic.”

In its testing form, a headset was placed on the writer’s head and low voltage electric current was passed from the back of the ear through the head. The current, either passed from the left or right ear, forced the writer to move in the direction from which the current came from. According to the article, this technology known as “galvanic vestibular stimulation,” operates on electricity messing with the delicate nerves inside the ear that help maintain balance.

The idea behind this technology is really unnerving after you are given the chance to process the concept.

Taro Maeda, a senior research scientist at NTT said, “we call this a virtual dance experience although some people have mentioned it’s more like a virtual drug experience.” What the experiment showed is that humans can now be transcended into living zombies by mere will power.

There are several supposed advantages of this technology besides gaming improvements. According to James Collins, professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University, would help prevent the elderly from falling and help people with an impaired sense of balance. Another advantage, suggested by Timothy Hullar, assistant professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, would be to use it as a form of non-killing weapon.

While all of these advantages seem like positive ideas that would be very instrumental in improving certain people’s lives, there are definitely shortcomings. First, there is no definitive research eliminating any effects, especially the long term effects of electric current being passed constantly through the human brain. NTT said it was unlikely for the electric effect to cause any health damage.

Equally important is the question of who controls this technology if it passes the test for use.

I think this new technology should not be put into use. While a remote control for a TV system seemed like a great idea and has become a successful invention, a remote control for humans is unethical and potentially unhealthy.

Wandoo Makurdi is a junior mass media studies student from Miami. She can be reached at