Advancing GVS as a novel,hands-free,and intuitive interface modality
Award last edited on: 5/29/2023

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Abhishek Datta

Company Information

Soterix Medical Inc (AKA: SMI)

Aspen Corporate Park 1480 US Highway 9 North 204
Woodbridge, NJ 07095
   (888) 990-8327
Location: Single
Congr. District: 06
County: Middlesx

Phase I

Contract Number: 140D0420C0030
Start Date: 3/9/2020    Completed: 3/8/2021
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
Nominal battlefield conditions require that operators maintain mission objective/task performance under a variety of conditions, often where scenarios and/or environments severely manipulate, degrade, or otherwise generate impoverished sensory inputs and resulting percepts. The adaptation of advanced techniques to access novel sensory stimulation will significantly improve delivery of actionable data without continuing to add to the already populated visual and auditory mechanisms currently dominating human-machine interactions. The current state-of-the-art is focused on refining somatosensory stimulation systems (e.g. haptics, proprioceptive cuing, vibrotactile actuators, etc.). It is the position of this proposal, however, that the high number of applications for which this sensory pathway is being envisioned for will, ultimately, result in another polluted landscape, akin to visual/auditory. Under this context, this proposal identifies how engagement of the human vestibular system, via galvanic vestibular stimulation, establishes a low-cognitive, mostly unexplored means of providing extrasensory information to a user. It can be delivered with highly desirable low size, weight, and power (SWaP) traits, can be established as a wearable, is uniquely linked to multiple mechanisms of human performance (e.g. vestibulocochlear, vestibulooccular), and offers expansions into other challenging environments, namely, deep-sea, mining, and space where visual and spatial cues are limited.

Phase II

Contract Number: W912CG-21-C-0014
Start Date: 8/3/2021    Completed: 9/2/2023
Phase II year
Phase II Amount
Current battlefield communications are primarily limited to auditory and visual channels. For example, radio communication or tablet-based interfaces convey information regarding mission status, objectives, and maintain team situation awareness. While appropriate and effective for some forms of information transfer and certain scenarios, these types of interfaces have limitations. Specifically, they typically require cognitive effort by the user (i.e., they may not be intuitive and can require high level processing). There may also be limits based upon the tactical network, such that they can only be used with a relatively small number of operators. Further, the environment may be loud, physically taxing, or otherwise complex, such that visual and auditory sensory channels are ineffective for receiving information. Given the limitations of traditional sensory modalities for battlefield information transfer, it is critical to develop novel, intuitive interfaces using alternative sensory modalities. Here, we propose an entirely new approach for communication, through galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS). While other alternative modalities (haptics, proprioceptive cuing, vibrotactile actuators, etc.) have been proposed and, in some cases, even developed and assessed, we are unaware of previous efforts to leverage the vestibular sensory channel, or any other form of electrical stimulation for conveying “actionable” information or cues. In Phase-1, we successfully demonstrated the feasibility of this approach by developing a wireless prototype of the GVS system to test hands-free implementation and subsequently completed preliminary usability testing in three pilot subjects (see below). We found that GVS is capable of cueing event information such that one cue can reliably be distinguished from another. The ability to distinguish between GVS event cues was remarkably robust to a variety of relevant environments (seated, standing, walking, in the dark, moving (like in a vehicle), or loud vs. quiet environments). In Phase-2, we intend to demonstrate effectiveness of wireless GVS to convey information via a combination of laboratory and realistic field environments. In addition, we will complete development of wireless capable wearable form factor device and further develop plans for commercialization. We expect a TRL of 7 at the end of Phase-2. The experiments will encompass all of the 9 scenarios stated in the proposal and will be performed at University of Colorado and Army Futures Command. The goal of Phase-2 is to fully develop this interface modality from the existing concept to an actual system proven through operational mission conditions and certified to relevant military standards. Our ultimate goal is to provide our solution as a viable information transfer modality in addition to existing radio and tablet communication approaches.