Mobility is something that the vast majority of us never even give a second thought to. We get up and move around without ever wondering what we would do if the simple act of getting up from our chair and going to another room was taken away from us. Even further from our thoughts is how we would deal with not being able to lift that fresh cup of coffee up to our lips to enjoy that fresh cup of java.
For quadriplegics though this is something that they constantly have to deal with. Life for them often means having to rely on other people to help them complete even the most menial of tasks. While wheelchair technology has advanced a great amount for quadriplegics the very act of being able to move their wheelchair either involves help or prominent mechanisms to let them do it themselves with things like head movements, or even just their tongue.
Well the engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT) have been working on a new technology called the Tongue Drive System which is a wireless, wearable device that allows the person to operate computers and their wheelchairs with just the movement of their tongue.
The most current model of the device resembles a sensor-studded dental retainer and uses tongue mounted magnet to control devices.
The new TDS configuration sports magnetic field sensors on each of its four corners which detect movements in the tongue-mounted magnet. Output from the sensors is then wirelessly beamed to special app-equipped iPods or iPhones which decipher the user’s intended commands in real-time by ascertaining the tongue magnet’s position relative to the other sensors. That data can then drive a computer’s cursor or double for the joystick control of an electric wheelchair. A tiny rechargeable lithium-ion cell powers the entire unit, which is covered with water-resistant insulation and vacuum molded into a custom-made dental-acrylic appliance.
I love to see technology like this.