> scientists use senses from tongue to aid disabled
> > Chris Mason
> > News Reporter
> > UW COMMUNICATIONS
> > The Tongue Display Unit should aid with both balance and vision disorders.
> > With a few additions to the tongue, paralyzed people could feel the touch
> > a loved one and blind people could make out a spatial orientation of their
> > surroundings.
> > Though it sounds like science fiction, the device to enable these actions
> > being developed and tested at UW-Madison by researchers Kurt Kaczmarek and
> > Paul Bach-y-Rita.
> > The device they have developed, called the Tongue Display Unit, uses tiny
> > electrodes to reroute impulses to the brain.
> > This is accomplished because the tongue is super-saturated with sensory
> > neurons, bathed in electrically conductive saliva and, compared to a
> > fingertip,
> > needs only 3 percent of the voltage required for sensory stimulation. The
> > device is made up of a tiny array of 144 copper electrodes plated with
> > Gold, though more expensive than copper, is present because of its
> > non-reactive nature.
> > "When you normally pass an electrical current through copper in the mouth,
> > it stains the tongue green," explained researcher Kurt Kaczmarek.
> > Though subjects will not notice any visual alterations, they may notice
> > varying sensations.
> > "It feels like a tingling vibration," Kaczmarek said. "It's a very
> > subjective thing - some people have said it's like soda bubbles, while
> > others say it's
> > like an arm falling asleep. We are aware of no adverse side effects, and I
> > am so confident of this that I let my own children (aged 5 and 6) play
> > the device. They call it 'the tongue tickler.'"
> > The tongue tickler has many potential uses, and will have
> > effects.
> > "Applications under consideration include biofeedback to aid persons with
> > vestibular (balance) disorders, vision substitution,
> > directional-navigational
> > information for Navy SEALS - we demonstrated proof of concept for this
> > a DARPA grant - urban search-and-rescue teams and extra senses in video
> > gaming,"
> > Kaczmarek said.
> > The device will run on batteries, but could have a more surreptitious
> > of control.
> > To avoid cables connected to cameras and computers from going into
> > mouths, the researchers plan on using short-range radio-frequency
> > transmitters
> > that wirelessly broadcast signals across the cheek.
> > This technology is not that far away. Prototype devices are available for
> > laboratory research right now, and commercial applications are only one to
> > two
> > years away.
> > The price of the device, currently as a prototype, is approximately
> > Kaczmarek and Bach-y-Rita are also working conceptually on devices about
> > size of a retainer that could help people who have lost their sense of
> > balance.
> > These devices have tiny sensors that will interface directly with the
> > The scientists said the next stage of that research will be to help pilots
> > with spatial disorientation, particularly in the dark.
> > "The device would give you valuable information to tell which way is up,
> > which is important when you're not headed up," Bach-y-Rita said.
> > The scientists' colleagues are enthusiastic about the new device.
> > "This work is based on totally solid science," said Dr. Deric Bounds,
> > of the UW department of zoology.
> > However, analysis and critique always arise.
> > "It will, at least at first, be limited in resolution by the small number
> > points," said Dr. Robery Dempsey, UW professor of neurological surgery.
> > "[The
> > image created by the device] may at first be a picture with only 144 dots
> > define it."
>This mailing list is sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind, NFB.
>To view or search an archive of messages for this list, go to: http://www.nfbnet.org
>For more information about the NFB, please call (410) 659-9314, point your
>internet browser to http://www.nfb.org or Telnet to nfbnet.org.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Dec 02 2012 - 01:30:04 PST