The first time I encountered this device was during a tour/investigation of the Jennie Wade House in Gettysburg in March 2009. I was monitoring the basement of the house when some would-be investigators joined down there to attempt communication with their Ovilus. Now, I had heard of this gadget and was very interested in seeing it function. Suffice to say I was a little disappointed with the number of times it said “feet”. Much of what was coming out of it was totally incomprehensible. Shortly afterward I decided to do a little research into this device.
Evidently what the creator of the Ovilus, Bill Chappell was trying to build with his invention was a device that would randomly select words (from a built in dictionary of 512 English words) and 71 possible phonetic sounds based on Electromagnetic Field Fluctuations. I should point out that on the website that sells the Ovilus (www.digitaldowsing.com) claims the device should only be used for “entertainment purposes” while also claiming it was designed for paranormal investigations! I guess the inventor wants his cake and be able to eat it too. Also on the website it says that the Ovilus does not include any additional computer algorithms that would interfere with the randomness of the devices responses. So, according to the creator, it does not and cannot cheat. But does it detect or, speak for, ghosts?
I have never watched any of the cable TV shows this gadget has been featured on, so I know little about how the public uses this. At the Jennie Wade House was where I first encountered the Ovilus directly. The “investigators” present seemed to be speaking directly at the this so-called technological marvel. I asked them what was the theory behind this and they told me that the spirits could influence the electronics inside the Ovilus and make the words and sounds form conversation. Sorry, if I sound a bit skeptical, but I highly doubt that when someone dies they become electronic engineers. There is no evidence that suggests ghosts from decades past can learn to use modern technology. Interference notwithstanding of course. If ghosts cause a TV to act funny, it is more likely to be an unintentional side effect. However, the influence of probable outcomes is a regularly reported aspect of studies in psychic phenomena.
Now before I go and try to explain how the Ovilus could work, I should point out that it could be nothing at all. It is also possible the inventor knows that there is nothing to it. The website does say it should only be used for entertainment purposes. It could be your mind just trying to associate words with nondescript nonsense. More than half of the Ovilus downloads I listened to for this article sounded like absolute gibberish. Most of them had some text of what the poster thought it said, but I can only imagine they had very active imaginations.
Starting with experiments in the 70’s, paranormal researchers did experiments into the effect of micro-pk (a form of psychokinesis) on probable outcomes. Using random number generators thousands of papers were written on very strong evidence that human observation can affect the outcome of events. I have yet to see any experiments with this device that shows that ghosts and not human influence is the deciding factor in Ovilus experiment outcomes. For that matter, I have seen no evidence to suggest it is anymore than just a $200 toy.