Hearing Your Footsteps: It's Affecting You More Than You Think

Happy Feet (not just a movie)

I came across a very interesting article in the New Scientist about how engineers and psychologists (Lead by Tajadura-Jiménez) at Royal Holloway, University of London, have hooked up some normal dull brown sandals to headphones that a subject wears and manipulated the pitch of their footsteps. (See video below) The low pitched versions of the footsteps actually affected walking and movement in a negative way and lighter higher pitches made people feel more full of energy.

The theory is that the subject knows that it is X weight and X height and walking with that feels like Y. When they get a manipulated sound of essentially their weight, the brain updates its self image and says that things aren't so hard anymore. Brilliant. This all gets put into a process the brain does called predictive coding. This is how you can predict (most of the time) where you need to be to be able to hit a tennis ball with a racket, It's all based on experiences and then just using that as a model to predict what should come next.

It should be noted that the effects wear off very quickly once you are back in your normal shoes, but its a great concept to try to develop more technologies to make people feel better and even exercise more.