'Wheelchair mobility at the tip of the tongue'
Here's a cool story, "Wheelchair mobility at the tip of the tongue," that appeared on CNN's Web site yesterday. It's about a tongue drive wheelchair that's being developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology. The reporter describes the technology this way:
Once he mastered the commands, researchers fitted his tongue with a small magnet, no bigger than a piece of rice. The magnet works like a mouse pad, with the tongue as the cursor. Move the tongue forward and it sends a wireless signal to six sensors in a special headset that cause the wheelchair to move forward. Move the tongue back, and the chair goes into reverse."
When it comes to controlling a wheelchair, why's a tongue better than a keyboard, buttons or a sip and puff device like the one used by Christopher Reeve? One of the researchers working on the technology explains:
These patients, the last thing they want is to look even more different when in a wheelchair. This design helps."
Or take it from 20-year-old Cruise Bogle, who became a paraplegic during a skimboarding accident two years ago:
The wheelchair was pretty crazy. It was awkward at first to control a wheelchair with my tongue, but it got easier as I went on. It is amazing technology, and I can't imagine what else Georgia Tech will turn out in the coming years."