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Input Devices Science

BrainPort Lets the Blind "See" With Their Tongues 131

Hugh Pickens writes "Scientific American reports that a new device called 'BrainPort' aims to restore the experience of vision for the blind and visually impaired by relying on the nerves on the tongue's surface to send light signals to the brain. BrainPort collects visual data through a small digital video camera and converts the signal into electrical pulses sent to the tongue via a 'lollipop' that sits directly on the tongue, where densely packed nerves receive the incoming electrical signals. White pixels yield a strong electrical pulse and the electrodes spatially correlate with the pixels, so that if the camera detects light fixtures in the middle of a dark hallway, electrical stimulations will occur along the center of the tongue. Within 15 minutes of using the device, blind people can begin interpreting spatial information. 'At first, I was amazed at what the device could do,' says research director William Seiple. 'One guy started to cry when he saw his first letter.'" There is some indication that the signals from the tongue are processed by the visual cortex. The company developing the BrainPort will submit it to the FDA for approval later this month, and it could be on sale (for around $10,000) by the end of the year.
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BrainPort Lets the Blind "See" With Their Tongues

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  • Re:tastes like... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PachmanP ( 881352 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:49PM (#29160557)

    Does that mean ugly girls "taste like shit"?

    Well that's going to depend entirely on where you look.

  • by drrobin_ ( 131741 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @12:19AM (#29160735)

    This is the most promising bit of cybernetics news I have seen in quite a while. I've been hoping that some day within my lifespan artificial senses could be used. Well, now it looks like they can. Maybe they make for low-resolution video, maybe they can be used for information readout. Yeah, it would look weird, but this can give you (for example) a read heads-up display that doesn't interfere with your vision. Or an interface for processing senses from remotely controlled robots. Imagine the fun business users would have being able to "read" their email while driving. The possibilities are endless.

  • by tolan-b ( 230077 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @06:52AM (#29162417)

    You were doing so well for about half a post then it all went to shit :)

    The order in which data is input into a computer makes no difference, processing is typically done frame by frame for a visual dataset, so each cycle (not CPU..) of processing acts on the whole 2D structure in one go.

    Besides, hardware based artificial neural networks for processing images process 2D pixel arrays in parallel.

    Also I think you're miles off when it comes to consciousness. Despite many claims I don't think anyone's really anywhere near any real idea of what it is. I think it might be an emergent property of certain types of complex system, but that's as much of a guess as yours is and I'm not going to try to state it as fact.

  • by lessthan ( 977374 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @03:47PM (#29165685)
    Yeah, I was thinking that too, then I read the rest of the summary. They are submitting the BrainPort to the FDA this month. That is why it is news.

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