This past year my company, Otolith Sound, developed a wearable that allows the user to ignore their vestibular system. Originally we developed the technology to prevent motion sickness, which it has been extremely effective at. However, after seeing the results, researchers at Johns Hopkins suggested we try our technology on more serious vestibular conditions and recommended this forum.
The best way to describe how our technology works is to start with an analogy. If you’re unable to sleep because someone is talking in another room, you can turn a fan on. The noise from the fan is louder than the talking but because it’s constant and there’s no information your brain tunes it out. Our technology works by overstimulating the vestibular system with ‘white noise’ until the brain ignores it and uses other sensory information for spatial awareness.
Our wearable consists of a headset that holds an infrasonic surface transducer to the mastoid. This transducer then vibrates the vestibular system. Users notice an immediate loss of their vestibulo-ocular reflex and may experience a floating sensation as they move around. However, the body adapts immediately to the loss of vestibular information and users are able to work, read, walk around etc. There is a constant vibration and low frequency hum the user experiences but test subjects have reported these are not distracting when they focused on reading or having a conversation. Once the device is removed or turned off, full vestibular function returns within a few minutes. Up until now, there have been no reported side effects.
When used by motion sickness sufferers, 100% of test subjects had the symptoms of motion sickness delayed by a factor of two (50% had their symptoms eliminated entirely). So far, car sickness is the only condition we’ve tested for. We do not yet know if this will be beneficial for vestibular migraines, vertigo, etc. If anyone suffering from a vestibular condition would like to try this technology we’d love to get in contact with you (particularly if you’re in the Washington DC region). You can reach us through our contact page on www.otolithsound.com