Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cool device may offer 'vision' to the blind

The UK's Daily Mail (9/2) reports that the BrainPort vision device, developed by scientists at Wicab, may help the blind to see by "using their tongue." The device consists "of an inch-long video camera hidden in a pair of sunglasses, which the user wears. Signals from the camera are sent along a cable to a handheld control unit, about the size of a mobile phone, and then to a lollipop shaped stick, which is placed on the tongue." Next, "the control unit converts the image into a low resolution black, white and grey picture, which is then recreated as a square grid of 400 electrodes -- around the size of a postage stamp -- on the lollipop." Even though "users initially 'feel' the image on their tongue, with practice the signals activate the 'visual' parts of the brain for some people." The Daily Mail notes that BrainPort "could be approved for sale" in the US "by the end of the year." (courtesy AOA)

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