The Loh Down On Science

Tongue Drive

The tongue drive offers independence to the disabled.

Here's a motion control story that's a little tongue-in-cheek!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with The Loh Down on Science

and with a cool new invention for the otherly abled.

Maysam Ghovanloo of Georgia Tech has developed a device that allows the disabled to operate a wheelchair or a computer--with their tongues.

The Tongue Drive system works like this. A rice-grain sized magnet is attached to the tongue. Moving the magnet activates sensors in a headset, sending signals to a wireless portable computer that can drive a wheelchair or move a cursor on a screen.

Unlike hands and feet, the tongue is directly connected to the brain, so it's usually unaffected by spinal cord injuries or neuromuscular diseases. That means even those with no motor function below the neck can use the system.

Tests showed it responded quickly to commands with nearly 100 percent accuracy. Soon, software will connect it with text generators and speech synthesizers.

Ghovanloo hopes the system will mean greater independence for the disabled.

It may still be tricky to chew gum while playing a video games but. . . Hey! Never say never.


blog comments powered by Disqus