Your inner ear is REALLY blinged out… | Accidental Scientist

Your inner ear is REALLY blinged out…

Everyone knows about those weird loopy gyroscopes in your head (the semicircular canals). But did you know that your inner ears also contain little sacks of crystals called otoliths that make them accelerometers too?

 

statoconia

You can find these little organic sensors in the Utricle and the Saccule of the inner ear.

Any game developer who has had to do any kind of motion tracking/gesture handling will recognize that having gyros and accelerometers works much better for dead-reckoning than using an accelerometer alone to simulate a gyroscope.

So your ear has both. (And you head has two sets of them too). This gives you much better accuracy.
But wait!

Bonus Feature!

They may let you hear subsonic and ultrasonic sounds too. Yes, I know what you’re thinking – by definition, you can’t hear subsonic or ultrasonic sounds. Absolutely correct, I can’t argue with it. But your body can and does respond to them, even if they don’t get translate into “pitch”.

Handy little blingy things.

About Simon Cooke

Simon Cooke is a video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker and all-round good egg in Seattle, WA. The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind.
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One Response to Your inner ear is REALLY blinged out…

  1. Gerald says:

    Hi Simon. Thanks for these interesting blog posts. I think of one way these subsonic and/or ultrasonic sounds interact with us; yawning. You can see how yawns see to transmit from persons to persons, in public transports for example. I don’t think that sight is the key to this transmission as I have observed how people not seeing each other can still be “affected” and yawn. The logical transmission method for me is sound that are outside our hearable frequency range, and these statoconia may be a key to it. I have been looking for references and researches around yawning propagation but have not found anything serious about this. What do you think?