Balancing Act

Thousands of Americans with untreatable inner-ear problems suffer from a severe lack of balance that can make something as simple as getting out of bed a nightmare. Now it seems the technology used to orient air-planes and satellites could help these people regain stability.

Scientists at MIT and Draper Laboratory are developing a tiny gyroscope and accelerometer that patients with balance disorders could wear as a headset. The instruments send a signal to vibrational devices the size of M&Ms sewn into the patient’s clothes. When the person leans more than 10 degrees from the vertical, the devices on that side vibrate, producing a sensation that prompts the wearer to straighten up. Tests on patients with balance disorders are beginning at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Online Only

$19.95/yr US PRICE


From the latest smartphones to advances in quantum computing, the hardware behind today's digital age is rapidly changing.

You've read of free articles this month.