When we think of the human tongue, we think of a piece of human flesh that serves a lot of purposes, whether it is tasting food, cleaning our lips and mouth, kissing, swallowing and much more. And now, Georgia Tech scientists have come up with a breakthrough technology that is going to add yet another task to the already busy tongue.
These inventors have come up with a computerized system that attaches a magnet to the tongue (which is then tracked) and can be used to control the keyboard of a computer. The idea is simple; each tooth would represent a few keys on the keyboard. The person would then move his tongue to a specific tooth to enter whatever key he desires on the computer system. Also, the embedded chip can be used as a joystick, in the hopes that it could control other functions that operate using axis movement, such as controlling a wheelchair. The technology is still in its early stages and needs a lot of development, but the concept has been very positively favored among scientists, and they are quite eager to continue development into the project.
“This could give you an almost infinite number of switches and options for communication, it’s easy, and somebody could learn an entirely different language.” – Mike Jones, a vice president of research and technology at the Shepherd Center.
This concept could really benefit the disabled by giving them much more control over computer systems as compared to past technologies. From what I’ve read, I think they would be able to carry out many different commands, write proper sentences or even full length essays. If this idea does develop into something, it could really help these people. One day we could see the disabled writing computer programs or controlling dangerous machinery, all with the movement of their tongue.
Maysam Ghovanloo, the Georgia Tech scientist who leads the research team, is working toward creating a virtual environment. His idea is to attach a magnet to the tongue and then have the entire mouth mapped into this environment. When the tongue moves and interacts with different portions of the mouth (i.e. teeth and mouth walls), it corresponds to a mapped portion which in turn is equivalent to a certain command on the computer.
The project is still in its infancy, but has already received $210,000 worth of funding. The scientists and onlookers still admit that the concept is very sketchy and base but they truly believe it can become something successful and functional in the future. They also are working to ensure the technology is cheap and compact.
I personally support a project like this. Even though it may be in its initial stages, it’s a very promising, worthwhile and practical idea. Like any other masterpiece, it must start off in its alpha and beta stages (which are usually not pretty), before it blossoms into a very useful product.