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The App That Turns You Into a Human GPS

New technology will guide you where you need to go by zapping your legs.

The line between “creepy technology advancing us towards our dystopian future” and “cool new app that will make my life easier” is already so thin, and it gets thinner every time we outsource yet another one of our mental functions to our fancy gadgetry. Exhibit Z: this “cruise control app for pedestrians” some scientists in Germany are developing.


Researchers at the University of Hanover have successfully tested technology that will guide you where you need to go by “zapping” you lightly in the legs.

"When I use Google Maps and I navigate somewhere, I am always pulling my mobile out of my pocket to check," researcher Max Pfeiffer told the New Scientist. "We want to remove this step out of the navigation process so you just say ‘I want to go there', and you end up there."

Students who tested the new tech wore electrodes on their thighs and they were “steered” into the right direction by a phone connected to them by bluetooth. Pfeiffer “drove” them, sending directions from his phone while he trailed them ten paces away. The electrodes on the test subjects’ legs released a very subtle electrical current into their muscles. The resulting sensation is so delicate that students describe their reaction to it as “subconsious”.

The Belfast Telegraph notes that this kind of tech can be used to guide firefighters in emergency situations and older people who suffer from dementia to their homes when they are lost. But it’s equally important to think about all the very bad, no-good ways this tech could be used as well. I’m thinking it won’t be hard to disperse a crowd of protesters if you can subconsciously direct them gently back to their homes. Anyway, I can’t wait to use the app next time I’m traveling.

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