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Keeping Balance with Vibrating Shoes

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the let's-get-ready-to-rumba dept.

Science 160

DrLudicrous writes "The NYTimes (free registration) is running an article that summerizes a forthcoming Physical Review Letters article. The article is about how low amplitude vibrations can help a person better sense when they are off balance. The authors write that they improved the balance of senior citizens by using small vibrations in the floor, making their sense of balance like that of a 25 year old. Apparently, this background noise helps to stimulate the neurons in the feet, making them more susceptible to detecting imbalances."

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Conditioned response? (4, Funny)

WilliamsDA (567274) | more than 11 years ago | (#4692982)

Ivan Pavlov would be proud. :)

Re:Conditioned response? (4, Funny)

TrollBurger (575126) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693003)

Yeah, but just try and get dogs to wear sneakers.

Re:Conditioned response? (-1, Offtopic)

handybundler (232934) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693375)

From the album "OT Original Troller"

Hustler word I pull the troller long Grit my teeth spray till every moderator's gone Got my IP block sewn armored dope spots Last thing I sweat's a sucka punk mod Move like a king when I troll hops You try to flex bang another moderator drops You gotta deal with this cause there's no way out Why? Cash money ain't never gonna play out I got nothin to lose much to gain In my brain I got a capitalist migraine I gotta get laid tonight, you muthafuckin right Fools check my grip, check my bitch, keep my game tight So many hos on my jock, think I'm a movie star Nineteen, I got a fifty thousand dollar car Go to school, I ain't goin for it, Kiss my ass, bust the cap on the Moet Cause I don't wanna hear that crap, Why? I'd rather be a Slashdot-----Hustler

(chorus) Hustler Hustler Hustler H-U-S-T-L-E-R

hustler

(kid drop in)

Yo man you know what I'm sayin? You got it trollin' on my man, I like how it's moddin' down You got the fly cars, the girls, the jewels Look at that ring right there, I know it's real, it's gotta be real Man, you the flyest Troller I seen in my life! Yo man, I just wanna troll with you man, How can I be down?

What's up? You say you wanna be down? Ease back, or muthafucka get beat down Out my face, fool I'm the illest, Bulletproof, I troll harder than Bruce Willis Got my crew in effect, I bought em new Jags, So much cash, gotta keep it in Hefty bags All I think about is keys and Gs Imagine that, me workin at Mickey D's (ha ha ha ha) That's a joke cause my karma's never gonna be broke, When I die there'll be bullets and gunsmoke Ya don't like my lifestyle? Fuck you! I'm trollin with the Slashdot crew

And I'm a hustler H-U-S-T-L-E-R hustler

Slashdot, Slashdot

Here I come, so you better break North, As I troll, my gold chains glide back and forth I care nothing bout you, and that's evident All I love's my trolls and dead comment threads Sound crazy? Well it isn't The ends justifies the means, that's the system I learned Linux in school then I dropped out, Hit the streets, checked a grip, and now I got clout I had no karma, and I wanted it You had +50 cap, and you flaunted it Turned the needy into the greedy, With Slashdot, my success came speedy Got me twisted, jammed into a paradox Every dollar I get, ain't suckin Slashdot Moderator cocks Maybe that's the plan, and I don't understand, God damn----you got me sinkin in quicksand But since I don't know, and I ain't never learned, I gotta get paid, I got karma to earn With my posse, out on the ave, Bump my sounds, crack a First Post and laugh Cool out and watch my First Post gleam, Is this a nightmare? Or the American dream? So think twice if you're coming down my block, You wanna journey through hell? Well slashdot gets hot Pregnant teens, children's screams, Life is weighed on the scales of a Redundancy You don't come here much, and ya better not Wrong move (bang), ambulance cot I gotta get more karma than you got, So what, if some muthafucka gets shot? That's how the game is played, Another brother slayed, the wound is deep BUT they're givin us a Band Aid My computer education's low but I got long dough, Raised like a pit bull, my heart pumps nitro Sleep on silk, lie like a politician, My Uzi's my best friend, cold as a mortician Lock me up, it's genocidal catastrophe, There'll be another one after me!

A hustler

Hustler

H-U-S-T-L-E-R hustler Slashdot, Slashdot

Re:Conditioned response? (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693411)

Hmm...Pavlov...Pavlov...that name rings a bell, somehow...

Re:Conditioned response? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693477)

hey watch it, you're starting to drool...

Bass (5, Funny)

Lemmeoutada Collecti (588075) | more than 11 years ago | (#4692992)

So all the BASS played in a club is so a drunk can walk around trying to pick up chicks and still stand!

Re:Bass (5, Funny)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693016)

More to the point, senior housing should be built on top of night clubs! A great excuse to visit grandma and grandpa more frequently, too! I'm sure they'll appreciate it!

=Smidge=

Re:Bass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693139)

More to the point, senior housing should be built on top of night clubs! A great excuse to visit grandma and grandpa more frequently, too! I'm sure they'll appreciate it!

Plus it might make them less annoying if you're hammered and they are asking you why you're such a schmuck -- nagging... etc. You get a place to barf and get pampered for being 'sick'.

Relax in front of their 70's TV. If they were cool, you could bring home 'visitors', too! :P

Re:Bass (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693150)

it's not like they would complain about the noise!

Re:Bass (0, Troll)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693327)

not with all the banana picking they do! And for heaven's sake the cheese! Mod me funny too! I am funny too!

Re:Bass (0, Offtopic)

kingkade (584184) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693029)

So all the BASS played in a club is so a drunk can walk around trying to pick up chicks and still stand!

Exactly, BASS=ASS.

Re:Bass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693134)

Other than the different spelling and completely different pronounciation, you're right!

Re:Bass (1)

uchian (454825) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693188)

Why else do so many lose the ability to walk the moment they leave the night club (and the BASS) and try and walk home?

Control of balance? (5, Interesting)

autocracy (192714) | more than 11 years ago | (#4692996)

I was under the impression balance was primarily controlled by the inner ear... how much of an effect do your feet really have with this?

Re:Control of balance? (5, Informative)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693041)

The inner ear helps keep you HEAD straight, with the fact that anyplace your head goes your body is likely to be not far behind... inner ear problems effect balance because the brain is trying to compensate for movements that aren't really happening.

Sensations from the feet are required to make sure they stay *under* you, thus helping to keep your head straight as well.

=Smidge=

Re:Control of balance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693180)

with the fact that anyplace your head goes your body is likely to be not far behind

It's rather uncomfortable when this isn't true. Just ask anyone on Highlander.

Re:Control of balance? (5, Informative)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693137)

There are a lot of things that effect balance.
I have Meniere's disease - my vestibular system is faulty... I also have Nystagmus, involuntary eye movement... that causes balance problems.
I also have reduced peripheral vision in various color ranges. The net result of all of this is that I can walk into a supermarket and the visual field of the aisles, combined with the lighting can send me into a sudden vertigo attack.
I use my sense of proprioception (body position, etc) to help my balance.
One of the important parts of therapy to try to deal with this involves having you stand on pillows, etc, to get used to balancing, as the proprioceptive signals from your feet are crucial to your overall sense of body position.
Other things like head and arm position also have major effects.

So many things come into play that you never think about until you lose one of the components of balance... then you notice all of the others. It's a big adjustment.

Re:Control of balance? (1)

QaBOjk (614183) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693175)

Just wanted to say you're amazin for going through that! thats awesome!
kinda like a hero

Re:Control of balance? (5, Funny)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693209)

thanks :)

Yes, I'm a superhero. Stumbleboy. My main super power is projectile vomiting. ;)

Re:Control of balance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693358)

he's either a hero or a bit of a hypochondriac.

Re:Control of balance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693330)

The way nerves work, if nothing is changing, they don't bother reporting anything to the brain. For example, you feel your clothes right when you put them on, but after a while you don't feel them. Your brain already knows there's something there, there's no need for the nerves to keep telling it. The idea behind vibrating shoes would be that the nerves in your feet would always be alert.

Re:Control of balance? (1)

m1a1 (622864) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693415)

Your inner ear helps you keep track of where up and down are which way you are moving. However, as far as where your feet need to be moved to keep you upright, that is determined by what the nerves in your feet send to your brain.

New Tech? (4, Funny)

dolo666 (195584) | more than 11 years ago | (#4692997)

The article is about how low amplitude vibrations can help a person better sense when they are off balance.
I must use this new technology to disrupt Spiderman's Spidey Sense! Bring out the Megalatrogolagolotron!!!

(mutters to self) It must be his weakness.

imagine (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4692998)

i should be able to balance really well during an earthquake.

Help me... (5, Funny)

nzyank (623627) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693009)

...I'm standing and can't fall down

Balance (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693011)

That's interesting, but I thought balance was mostly felt and controlled by the inner ear, regardless of which body part was making surface contact. Maybe they should study the LF effects there too.

25 year old? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693012)

making their sense of balance like that of a 25 year old

perhaps they should qualify that with a sober 25 year old...

Re:25 year old? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693103)

Ohh I heard about sober 25 year olds. In a joke once. Never actually seen one.

For Their Next Experiment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693017)

They're going to have 75 year old women stradle a subwoofer while listening to Dr. Dre.

Case Mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693021)

I can just imagine... all fans in my PC must give me the balance of a cat :)

Behind the scenes (5, Funny)

carlcmc (322350) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693024)

Researcher 1: Hey, I've got an idea. Get this, we will VIBRATE the floor to see if we can the elderly sure footing!

Researcher 2: *silence*

Researcher 1: This has nothing to do with my blind-the-senior project for better visual acuity project!

Fix their vision too! (5, Interesting)

someguy (23968) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693032)

Current research is showing that a lot of the problems with the elderly and having accidents - vehicular or otherwise - is strongly correlated with attentional problems that they have. Their functional field of view [google.com] suffers and, combined with other things is responsible for a lot of their problems.

So, while this vibrational shoe may have some balance effects, it's only part of the problem that they're fixing.

Re:Fix their vision too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693055)

I had a short stint after high school at a convenience store. An old lady came in and asked for help with her car. I thought it just wouldn't start or something, but it was fine, she just couldn't remember how to turn it on.

Re:Fix their vision too! (2, Interesting)

girl_geek_antinomy (626942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693243)

If you read articles related to this research, it seems that what's happening here is a physical threshold effect in individual collections of peripheral neurons rather than anything happening primarily in the brain (in any case, balance control only very very rarely goes conscious - that moment, when you think 'shit, I'm going to fall over and pour this latte across the floor!') The stuff on attention is really interesting, though.

Re:Fix their vision too! (2)

someguy (23968) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693479)

No, it's actually not a physical threshold effect. There's some issues there, yes. I mean, you can't completely avoid slowdown and decay in the elderly. I'm attached to a lab that's doing some research on this right now and we're finding that some training in related tasks greatly improves the UFOV constrictions. If it were a sensory issue then training wouldn't produce the jump in performance test results that are seen.

Re:Fix their vision too! (1)

girl_geek_antinomy (626942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693532)

That's interesting, what I've read about this particular research (the vibrating floor stuff, mostly in New Scientist) suggested treshold effects were going on, but if as you say the reaction is trainable, tben yes,that does suggest a different mechanism. Hrm. I'll have to go and read the real paper now. *grin*.

Terrific news (3)

doc_traig (453913) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693036)


Now it's actually a Good Thing to crank the stereo at grandma's house. Of course, now that I think about it, it is grandma's house: the old Wallensack really can't get all that loud...

- DDT

I see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693040)

...so now we can blame bad vibes for our aversion towards crotchety old ladies. I can see it now:

"Mama! I don't like Mrs. Thompson. She's giving off bad vibes!"

I wonder if it helps healthy people. (1)

Prince_Ali (614163) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693051)

Here's another links [aip.org] . I didn't feel like registering.
I wonder if this technology could be applied to healthy individuals to allow higher than normal agility maybe for soldiers fighting in unstable enviroments where they may lose their footing.

One for the road... (4, Funny)

houseofmore (313324) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693052)

Balance of a 25 year old eh? I seem to recall spending a fair amount of time staggering around.

X)

Think twice (2, Funny)

dirkdidit (550955) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693066)

Next time somebody threatens to shove their foot up your ass, it may bring new sensations.

These shoes... they vibrate? (1)

bachlab (214360) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693069)

These brooms.. they vibrate?

Re:These shoes... they vibrate? (2)

autocracy (192714) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693112)

This [slashdot.org] one available from Amazon.com vibrates... too bad they took down the comments from the clueless purchasers...

count me out! (4, Funny)

Stanley Feinbaum (622232) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693075)

Bad balence be damned! When I am a senior citizen I'll be driving around in one of those cool little cart things. Isn't that the whole reason to even grow old?

Re:count me out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693082)

Will it have a V8 under the hood?

It's Optional? (4, Funny)

Myriad (89793) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693138)

When I am a senior citizen I'll be driving around in one of those cool little cart things. Isn't that the whole reason to even grow old?

I didn't realize that growing old was optional! Cool!

So, where do I go to tell them "No"?

Re:It's Optional? (1)

skaffen42 (579313) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693249)

Yes, growing old is completely optional. For details I'd start by checking out this [ewav.com] site. And I'm sure google will turn up some more... :)

Re:It's Optional? (1)

Random Addict (625160) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693349)

Yes indeed, growing old is optional. You don't have to if you don't want to. But the alternative does not appeal to me at all.

Re:It's Optional? (2)

kubrick (27291) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693434)

I didn't realize that growing old was optional!

Well, you can always check out early... :)

Our feet can think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693087)

> Apparently, this background noise helps to stimulate the neurons in the feet, making them more susceptible to detecting imbalances

I think the real breakthrough here is that they found neurons in our feet!

Re:Our feet can think? (1)

girl_geek_antinomy (626942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693130)

I think the real breakthrough here is that they found neurons in our feet!

Um, neurons are the fundamental building block of the nervous system. Yup, they're everywhere. In your fingers, in your toes... why, how did you -think- signals got to and from your extremities... oh, no, don't answer that...

side effects ? (3, Insightful)

tandr (108948) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693099)

But does it mean that after some time they will get used to it? And have even more problems walking on "just" a floor? Or, like with any stimulators, will they need increasing amplitude/freq over time?

Re:side effects ? (2)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693179)

That's the whole point of the noise being random : there's no pattern to get used to.

Re:side effects ? (1)

girl_geek_antinomy (626942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693226)

Aye. And also, the vibrations are below what the body can be conscious of - they're below threshold themselves. It's only in combination with the body's own movements through the world that they're useful.

Balance Vs. thresholds (5, Interesting)

girl_geek_antinomy (626942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693115)

This was in New Scientist a fortnight ago (and that on -publication- date)! What a slow pick-up... :)

Seems it has to be random movement noise because any signal which is both repetitive and apparently irrelevant gets 'ignored' pretty quickly by the brain - after all, there's all kinds of signals coming through all the time like the feeling of your socks on your feet that you're not consciously aware of (though bet you are now, eh?).

Also, it's not really about balance (which, people are right, is sited in the middle ear primarily) and more to do with thresholds for detection - having random movement / vibration happening anyway means that the body swaying off-balance is likely in one phase to be reinforced by the vibration enough that it goes above threshold and the body realises that there's uneven pressure in the feet and corrects it - neat, no?

Has anyone else heard about the research into people balancing sticks on their fingertips, and how this has to do with random neuro-muscular noise, but generated by the body instead?

Re:Balance Vs. thresholds (2, Informative)

zedge (133214) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693166)

Yes, I read the NewScientist Article [newscientist.com] also. It seems that the random noise signal coming from the vibrating feet ocassionally makes the signals from the foot to the brain large enough to overcome a threshold they were not able to overcome without the noise. Since these signals are used for balance, this makes better balance possible.

Re:Balance Vs. thresholds (3, Interesting)

ElJefe (41718) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693315)

Has anyone else heard about the research into people balancing sticks on their fingertips, and how this has to do with random neuro-muscular noise, but generated by the body instead?

I'm not sure if this is what you mean, but it's possible to stabilize a pendulum (e.g., a stick) in an inverted position by vibrating the base (e.g., your hand) rapidly. Here's the first link that I could find on Google. [bris.ac.uk] It's been a while since I've dealt with the math, but I think it has something to do with the Mathieu equation [wolfram.com] from Floquet Theory [wolfram.com] .
</math lesson>

Re:Balance Vs. thresholds (1)

girl_geek_antinomy (626942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693339)

Coo! Yes, that is what I meant :)

I was speaking to someone in a pub (yes, I know...) who asserted that it was possible to balance an infinite length series of flexibly connected rods on a vibrating object if only you could calculate exactly the vibration required, which we can't. It'd be very cool though, imagine the towers of balancing pencils...

"This is great news!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693143)

...said shoe-fetishists across the world.

Possible use for MS patients? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693174)

This sounds like it's very good news to seniors and multiple sclerosis patients.

For those of you who don't know, people with multiple sclerosis often have problems with sight, balance, and sensation in general.

Do you think there is any possibility for this to benefit MS patients as well as older people?

If it does, it sounds very intriguing. People like my mother have a very hard time keeping their balance regularly -- you can imagine what its like in the icy winter. I'd like to see more info on this research, however.

Re:Possible use for MS patients? (5, Interesting)

girl_geek_antinomy (626942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693199)

It's possible, though the nervous problems MS suffers experience are different to those seen in old people. It's likely that something that makes it more likely for an off-balance signal to go above threshold in a normal patient is unlikely to do any harm in MS though.

Diseases like Parkinson's and Huntingdon's may well be more complicated, though, since they're caused not by problems in the periperhal nervous system but by breakdowns in the systems in the brain that control movment.

Slashdot is feeding trolls (5, Funny)

geekguy (97470) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693184)

Combining vibrators and old people in the same article, no good can come of this.

Re:Slashdot is feeding trolls (2, Funny)

deego (587575) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693409)

> Combining vibrators and old people in the same article, no good can come of this.

Old people have the right to Good sensations too!

25 year olds. (1)

heldlikesound (132717) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693185)

"making their sense of balance like that of a 25 year old"


Judging by most of the 25 years I know, this is not a good thing...


Is this before or after the 1/8th of weed and three 40's of King Cobra???

Vibrating Suit (2, Funny)

Nathdot (465087) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693186)

What about an entire vibrating suit?

It would be a crying shame if the vision were limited to "vibrating shoes."

Kit out a wetsuit with those buzzing bad boys, and watch the elderly jump, dance, and screw like 25 year olds.

Re:Vibrating Suit (1)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693425)

Vibrating Suit

I mis-read the topic of your post the first time.

Horrible mental image I have now.

Bah!

F to tha P (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693205)

You can all vibrate your mother!

Neurons in the feet? (2, Funny)

Woy (606550) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693208)

"Apparently, this background noise helps to stimulate the neurons in the feet, making them more susceptible to detecting imbalances."

Damm if only i could get the neurons in my feet to learn how do dance! That'd be awesome!

Re:Neurons in the feet? (1)

^BR (37824) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693454)

Yeah

/. journalism at its best, now people have neurons in their feet. The morinic submitter meant nerve I think...

Oh man (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693217)

You know what I hate?

When you have to fart, but you're too lazy to get up, so you go ahead and let rip right where you're sitting, then about 2 seconds later you realize, yep, this one's a smelly one, and you're choking on the sulferous fumes of your own creation.

I just did that. Fuck.

Seems kinda pointless to me.. (0, Flamebait)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693236)

.. giving somewhat cool technology to the people that are most afraid of it.

I've got friends... (2)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693238)

...who would buy one of these just for "fun" >kof kof kof<

Good vibrations (1)

E1v!$ (267945) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693239)

Hmmm,

I've heard that we 'see' things through tiny vibrations of our eyes... perhaps we could do the same thing to their eyeballs and make them better drivers (wider field of vison)

Re:Good vibrations (3, Informative)

girl_geek_antinomy (626942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693325)

Erm.... I don't know where you learnt your sensory neurophysiology...

Light hitting the back of the eye causes (in the roughest possible terms) a change in electrical potential in the light sensitive cells, which is transmitted down neurons in the optic nerve (as electrical pulses) into the visual cortex of the brain, where it's interpreted in exceptionally clever ways we don't really understand. No vibrations to be seen, though.

Re:Good vibrations (1)

E1v!$ (267945) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693482)

"Erm.... I don't know where you learnt your sensory neurophysiology..."

I didn't. :)

This could be a blessing for some med conditons (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693242)

MS patients, seniors as well as those with vertigo related problems could really have an improved lifestyle if this works out. Come to think of it, this technology once it advances could be good as safety equipment for construction workers, bridge builders etc.

Ugghh, yesss (2)

dh003i (203189) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693250)

Ugghh, yesss...vibrating shoes. Mmmmmmmm!

I can see it now, people walking down the street having orgasms from the shockwaves of their vibrating shoes.

I've seen this first hand (2)

Valar (167606) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693259)

I went on a tour of the labs at Boston University and they had a lab that was working on this. They ran a demonstration with a subject from the crowd and it really does seem to work. Their explanation was that the body needs a certain amount of 'noise' in its sensory input to work properly (as a kind of reference level).

Stochastic Resonance (3, Informative)

fermion (181285) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693269)

This appears to be another application Stochastic Resonance [aip.org] in which a very weak signal is enhanced by adding a bit of noise. I guess the vibrations of the floor amplify the 'signal' to the inner ear.

Nothing new or magical in the theory, but it is a really cool application. Kudos to the researchers.

California to replace Florida as a place to retire (4, Funny)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693313)

If shaking the floor makes it easier for old people to get around then does this mean that California will become the new retirement playground for senior citizens?

California, the state where Quake is more than just a game :-)

Re:California to replace Florida as a place to ret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693579)

While the rest of the world waits for Quake 4, California is already at what, Quake 2000?

and yet... (1)

emilami (584157) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693319)

all the while the vibrations make it more frustrating due to increased difficulties in making it to the bathroom on time

Better NY Times link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693324)

No registration required (courtesy of AltaVista):

The Kind of Noise That Keeps a Body on Balance [nytimes.com]

iBrator 2 ? (3, Funny)

cwis42 (563232) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693326)

Oh, I see.
This is just the next version of the iBrator [sleeplessknights.com] .

Snake Oil (2, Insightful)

nebbian (564148) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693344)

This seems to me to be another case of the placebo effect. In other words, how to skew your experimental results by using people who "want to believe".

Let's see, how would you do a double blind experiment with these shoes? How can you get shoes that vibrate to not let someone know that they're vibrating?

Miracle cures like this seem to work the following way:
  1. Scientist invents theory to explain something.
  2. Inventor invents application to test theory.
  3. Researcher tests application by a small set of usually questionable experiments.
  4. Experiment is judged a success by the researcher. (Of course it is, what sort of researcher would claim a failure?)
  5. Investor funds building of these devices
  6. People buy "scientifically proven" trinkets.
If any part of this process isn't rigorously tested, then the end result is questionable.

The sad part of all this is that the cure actually might work, simply because the vibration tells the person that the miracle shoes are working and therefore the person will try harder to balance. After all, they bought those miracle shoes at quite a hefty price, so therefore they should be working!

Never underestimate the value of a well-marketed placebo.

Re:Snake Oil (1)

RockyJ (300620) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693433)

If any part of this process isn't rigorously tested, then the end result is questionable.

Could be. At a technical level, magnetic media requires a bias signal to properly take a recording. At least it did. Am I showing my age?

How you gonna prove it? Grandma's ability to better know when she's tipping over (pressure differences over the bottom of her stinky feet) could be the result of the vibrations moving the sensory devices (nerves) into their best dynamic range.

Hard to build a placebo that doesn't achieve the same effect. Never mind that smile on grandma's face.

wow, what a mental image... (4, Funny)

new death barbie (240326) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693346)

I had a game a long time ago, it was one of those football games where the little plastic men all began to move around the field when you made the field vibrate. Only problem was, they basically just kind of linked arms and went in circles...


Now I've got a picture in my head of dozens of seniors, linked arm in arm, moving helplessly
up and down the aisles at Walmart...


I'm sorry, I cant help it...it's just the way I am.

stochastic resonance (5, Interesting)

sanermind (512885) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693363)

It isn't the vibrational energy that is stimulating the neurons in the feet. Instead it's the additional quantity of information (that can be conveyed to the brain along aging pathways), by mixing in some noise. It may sound counterintuitive that noise can increase the resolution of a signal, but it makes sense. Imagine a signal is quantized in steps, and a sample could possibly fall between the discretely measurable points of sensitivity, and get lost. By adding noise enough to 'blur' the sample into a range that will always cross one sample boundary, then it will be detected more frequently. Even if it's blurred to cross two or three at a time, the relative activation of the seperate 'sensor nodes' allows an accurate determination of the actual quantity being sampled [given that the sampling resolution sufficiently exceeds the time resolution of changes in the actual value being sampled].
It's called stochastic ressonance.
It's used in some analog to digital converters, and in many other places in engineering, it's been used in electron microscopes, in radio telescopes.
And now, it turns out, it looks like it's used in people! What is really interesting is the question of whether or not the healthy adult body actually has automatic noise generators itself, for precisely this purpose, which may have weakened in the case of the elderly.

seen it all? no. (2)

deego (587575) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693365)

These Fetishes keep getting funnier.. Vibrators on feet now!

Now all old people... (2)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693381)

...will look like they have Parkinson's. "Whoa, you don't even have to put a quarter in her!"

Cool! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693385)

Okay, so we've solved the problem of old people just spontaneously losing their balance and falling over. Now we need to work on something to make them fucking walk faster in the supermarket. I'm tired of having to go food shopping at midnight so I don't have to maneuver around stupid fucking old people, shuffling along or blocking the aisles with their carts while they rifle through a three-inch stack of coupons.

Depends... (0, Troll)

malarkey (514857) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693400)

If we give old women vibrating panties, will they stop wetting themselves????

Sometimes my thoughts scare me, too.

Re:Depends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693476)

this is FUNNNNNNNY. If I had moderator points, I'd be using them.

Spelling? (1)

DrInequality (521068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693402)

GRRRRRR!

ears (2)

loconet (415875) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693418)

I guess it somehow relates to the fact that one feels dizzy and looses balance when we have an ear infection?

Balance (5, Informative)

sakusha (441986) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693419)

I could sure use some smart shoes or white-noise socks, my sense of balance is destroyed. I had an acoustic neuroma, when they remove it they cut your vestibular nerve in one ear, otherwise you have permanent vertigo. The best way I can explain it, is that my sense of balance is now mono instead of stereo. My doctor said there are three components to balance, pressure feedback through the skin, position feedback from the body and skeleton, and visual feedback. The doc said my sense of balance is now "visually dependent" so I have to be able to see clearly or I can lose my balance. When it's dark or the footing is rough or loose gravel, I stumble around like I'm drunk. This is horribly embarrasing, but more than that, it's a health risk. I took one balance test and barely passed, and I asked what it measured, the physiotherapist said it is to determine if you should use a cane or a walker. Poor scores meant a dramatically higher likelihood of broken arms, legs, and hips from falls, and subsequently, greater mortality.

Not Just for Old People (2, Funny)

m1a1 (622864) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693437)

I can imagine that this technology could be great for young people as well. Especially the nerdy type slashdot crowd.

I know I for one love to play sports and whatnot, but there is this problem of me sucking atrociously. I can run really fast, but coordination is so poor that bad things happen to me at these breakneck speeds. In fact, I can hardly even watch sports with my poor balance (4 or 5 times fallen on the bleachers this season). Shoes like this could add a lot of enjoyment to my fraternities pick up football games. Hey, we could even try intermurals next year! And us engineers would be the only frat nerdy enough to know about it!

article changes to summer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4693470)

...or does it summarise?

Monarchs Of The Sea (1)

ZmOo (209112) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693471)

I am the Monarch of the Sea, I wish i had a shiny new pair of vibrating shoes.

feet sensing imbalances (0)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 11 years ago | (#4693562)

I think you're all forgetting that the feet have nothing to do with balance. the mechanism for balance in the human body is the inner ear!
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