Sunday, August 16, 2009

BrainPort - Use Your Tongue To See

Great news for the blinds. Developers has developed a device for blind people to give them opportunity "to see" using their tongue. The BrainPort device, as it is called, will collect visual data through a tiny digital video camera that is located in the center of a pair of sunglasses. This recorded data will then be transferred over to a handheld base unit, where the processed data will ultimately be sent to the tongue through an electrode array that allows your tongue's surface to receive such electrical signals, where the brain's visual cortex will get to work. Check out video below.

Source : Scientific American

1 comment:

DYP said...

I am writing on behalf of the scientists and engineers, who invented, designed and developed this original technology under supervision of our friend and mentor Paul Bach-y-Rita at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1992 -2005) – Kurt Kaczmarek, Mitchell Tyler and Yuri Danilov.
The name “ Brainport” reflects the major goal of this technology – to transfer into the human brain the flow of information from outside environment using as an alternative channel, human skin and the surface of the tongue for particular applications to help people who lost natural sensory systems (vision, hearing, vestibular). Even more, this technology applied as a unique machine-brain interface can extend human abilities in limitless applications for navigation (including firefighters and scuba divers), communication, entertainment and other areas of everyday life and human activities, see Danilov, Yuri, Tyler, Mitchell. BrainPort: an alternative input to the brain. Journal of Integrated Neuroscience, 2005, 4, 4, pp.1-14.

This technology was patented in University of Wisconsin, Madison by Kurt Kazcmareck and Paul Bach-y-Rita. The Wicab, Inc. was founded by Mitchel Tyler and Paul Bach-y-Rita to speed up commercialization of BrainPort® technologies. Unfortunately, authors did not explore scientific basics of this technology and missed a further perspective even for the current device for the blind. There is at least theoretical perspective for future development of color and stereoscopic vision for the blind; it is also very intriguing to explore combination of this technology with existing methods and tools developed for artificial visual systems. Interestingly, the blind subjects are intensively using the camera zoom on the current BrainPort vision device, even if it was not included in our original natural design.
As a scientific research tool, this technology can facilitate our understanding of brain plasticity, open new areas of research in human psychophysics (basically we discovered new way to utilize the electrotactile sensory system), help to understand interactions of information flows in the human brain. As a clinical tool for sensory substitution, this technology tremendously changed the quality of life of people with sensory loss, for example, see PBS video clip, http://www.pbs.org/kcet/wiredscience/story/97-mixed_feelings.html
Since 2006, when Paul Bach-y-Rita died, all original inventors and developers of BrainPort technology are working in the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Tactile Communication and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory, Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Medicine Department, web site: tcnl.med.wisc.edu.