Tongue piercing as a joystick for wheelchairs

Tongue piercing as a joystick for wheelchairs / Health News

How a wheelchair can be controlled with the tongue


A tongue piercing will control computers and wheelchairs in the future. US researchers have developed technology that benefits people whose arms and legs are paralyzed. In the trade magazine „Science Translational Medicine "explain how tongue piercing works.

Commands of the tongue are transmitted to the wheelchair via an iPod
A small tongue piercing allows you to determine the tongue position to which certain commands are attached. In the process, the altered position of the tongue is detected by means of the changes of magnetic fields via sensors. Researchers headed by Maysam Ghovanloo of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta have developed a system that allows paraplegics, who often can not move their arms or legs, to control a wheelchair. The tongue commands go to an iPod, which sends the commands to a wheelchair or a computer.

To test the new technology, 11 paraplegics and 23 healthy individuals tested the functionality of tongue piercing. For this, they had to enter a telephone number with the tongue control, click on certain objects in the computer and master an obstacle course in an electric wheelchair. „All metrics improved over the course of the study“, the researchers write in the journal. Thus, the study participants were already familiar with the technology after half an hour.

„The flexibility of the Tongue Drive System (TDS) and the inherent characteristics of the human tongue gave people with severe motor impairments access to computers and controlled wheelchairs at speeds faster than conventional assistive technologies, yet still achieving their accuracy“, report Ghovanloo and colleagues.

A few weeks ago, researchers from Göttingen presented a wheelchair control system that is controlled via ear muscles. The test persons trained the use of the ear muscles by means of software. (Ag)

Image: Dieter Schütz