Tickling machine: Watch a machine discover the most ticklish spot on feet

The TickleFoot gadget stimulates the most ticklish spots of the human foot for girls it was discovered to be the centre of the arch, whereas for males it’s barely nearer to the toes


25 March 2022

A machine designed to create the optimum stimuli for tickling feet may function a stress reliever by inducing uncontrolled laughter, say researchers. The gadget is battery-operated and might be fitted to any regular shoe.

To determine the place the foot is most ticklish, Don Samitha Elvitigala at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and his colleagues used magnet-driven brushes to stimulate varied spots on the sole of the foot. The crew performed a research with 13 individuals, seven ladies and 6 males, who rated the degree of ticklishness they felt on a seven-point scale as a single brush was moved to completely different places.

The common worth given by ladies was 5.57, larger than the common of three.83 from males, and there have been additionally slight gender variations concerning the most ticklish spots on the foot; for girls the highest rating was given for the centre of the arch, whereas for males the most ticklish place was barely nearer to the toes.

TickleFoot might be inserted into any regular shoe

Researchers used this information to 3D-print a versatile insole that may be inserted into any regular shoe. Called the TickleFoot, it has three tickling actuators that hit the highest-scoring spots of the sole from throughout all experiments. The gadget, which is powered by lithium-ion batteries that final for 60 minutes of tickling, might be turned on and off remotely.

Scientists have beforehand urged that tickling may need an evolutionary function in social interplay and bonding, and Elvitigala believes that the TickleFoot could also be helpful as a method to supply distant social interplay between {couples} or as a stress-relieving gadget.

But Marlies Oostland at University College London doubts that tickling may assist those that are distressed. She has studied how rats reply to tickling and located they must be in a constructive frame of mind for it to induce laughter.

But she believes that tickling analysis in folks can yield new information about the operation of the mind, specifically about predictive coding. This is a course of by which the mind spots surprises by creating a mannequin of a particular person’s surroundings and utilizing it to foretell sensory enter, then evaluating that with the precise expertise.

“I think it’s incredibly useful to do research like this,” she says. “The brain uses predictive coding, and one of the naturalistic ways to study that is to study things like tickling, because this is one of the very unusual behaviours where we actively seek out surprising events. For every other behaviour we try to minimise surprise, because when surprise happens it’s probably a predator trying to kill you.”

Journal reference: ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, DOI: 10.1145/3490496

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