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Scientists have designed a navigation system which controls your legs

Ever wish you didn’t have to figure out where you’re going on a map, or prod uselessly at a slow mapping app? In fact, ever wish every decision in your life could be made for you by machine?


Well, friends, your day has come. A group of scientists have created a system which takes all of the trouble – in fact, almost all of the cognitive function – out of navigation. They strapped small electrodes to participants’ legs, and, using a phone app, delivered pulses which directed them through a route. 

The electrodes are attached to the sartorius muscle, a long, thin muscle which stretches across the outside of the thigh. When the electrodes deliver their shock, it creates an involuntary jerk in the muscle which turns the leg, and walker, in that direction. Apparently, this isn’t painful, and the tug is gentle enough to override if necessary.

Eventually, the system could be integrated into GPS maps which figure out routes based on your destination and direct you there. The technology could also be used to guide you around obstacles if you’re too busy staring at your phone to notice them:

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The system’s creators, who hark from a range of German universities, collected their findings together in a research paper earlier this month.

Max Pfeiffer, one of the authors, told Sky News that the technology could have many applications, from directing disoriented elderly people home to guiding runners through their training routes. And in good news for megalomaniac football coaches, Pfeiffer says “new variants of team sports may be devised in which the coach or an external player may influence the moves of the team”.


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