Eyes in Your Tongue

I haven’t had a good upbeat ain’t-tech-wonderful post in a little while, but the recent approval of Wicab’s BrainPort V100 device for use in the EU gives me a chance to show this bit of coolness:

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Here’s how it works:

The BrainPort V100 includes a video camera mounted on a pair of sunglasses. The camera works in a variety of lighting conditions and has an adjustable field of view (zoom). The tongue array contains 400 electrodes and is connected to the glasses via a flexible cable. White pixels from the camera are felt on the tongue as strong stimulation, black pixels as no stimulation, and gray levels as medium levels of stimulation. Users report the sensation as pictures that are painted on the tongue with tiny bubbles. A small hand-held unit provides user controls and houses a rechargeable battery. The system will run for approximately 3 hours on a single charge.

Think of it as visual braille read by your tongue. It does not provide “sight,” but with training (10 to 20 hours) people can learn to process the impressions on the tongue into image-like data understood by brain. 

It is not yet available for use in the US and is still in development.

And just to inject a political note in this piece: Wicab, which has been trying to bring this tech to market for years, is one of those wicked medical device companies being punished with a new tax to pay for the Obamacare boondoggle. Of course, this will raise the cost of all medical devices, but it will also steal (yes, steal) important funds which companies (especially small ones) use to bring incredible new devices like this to market after massive amounts of R&D, years of work, and millions of dollars spent clearing FDA hurdles.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.

  • http://www.parafool.com victor

    Neuroplasticity FTW! It’s good to see that this is finally coming out, over 40 years after Paul Bach-y-Rita first experimented with “chair-vision”, and well over 10 years after his “tongue-vision” work which led directly to the BrainPort device.

    But I do agree with you, sadly, that the great age of technological Innovation in Medicine is behind us. Any medical breakthroughs to be made now will be in the areas of how to make a dollar out of 15 cents and how best to starve old people to death.

  • Harry Piper

    Completely off-topic, but are you going to review Bioshock:Infinite anytime soon?

  • http://www.godandthemachine.com Thomas L. McDonald

    I’m finishing up a couple other things (including SimCity), and but it’s on my hard drive waiting for me to play in the next few days. I’ll try to get up some preliminaries once I get down to it.

  • Harry Piper

    Cheers, man. Looking forward to it.