Retainer Lets You Operate Electronics With Your Tongue

We love gadgets here at Walyou, but unfortunately they’re not as fun to use if you have a disability. Georgia Tech’s Tongue Drive System, which looks like a retainer, could help address that problem.

In the past, people with disabilities severe enough not only to prevent them from walking but also limit the use of their hands have used device like sip-and-puff technology to operated motorized wheelchairs, use computers, and other tasks.

Retainer tongue controller

The Tongue Drive, which comes to us via Engadget, lets users stick a retainer (like the kind a lot of American kids get after their braces come off) with magnetic sensors. These sensors then transmit data to an iOS app which can drive various bits of machinery like wheelchairs or move the mouse pointer on a computer.

By moving the sensors inside the mouth, we have created a Tongue Drive System with increased mechanical stability and comfort that is nearly unnoticeable,” Maysam Ghovanloo, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology said.”

The device is powered by a lithium-ion battery and is charged by an induction coil. The new retainer-based device replaces an earlier headset design.

It’s already being tested on people who’ve had spinal cord injuries. They were able to easily use computers and navigate their wheelchairs through an obstacle course.The magnets offer a greater range of commands beyond the standard sip and puff devices that paraplegic people currently use.

“During the trials, users have been able to learn to use the system, move the computer cursor quicker and with more accuracy, and maneuver through the obstacle course faster and with fewer collisions,”  Ghovanloo said. “We expect even better results in the future when trial participants begin to use the intraoral Tongue Drive System on a daily basis.”

If you like this, you might be interested in a device that lets you read with your finger, as well as a smart wheelchair.