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BrainPort Lets the Blind "See" With Their Tongues

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the battery-testing dept.

Input Devices 131

Hugh Pickens writes "Scientific American reports that a new device called 'BrainPort' aims to restore the experience of vision for the blind and visually impaired by relying on the nerves on the tongue's surface to send light signals to the brain. BrainPort collects visual data through a small digital video camera and converts the signal into electrical pulses sent to the tongue via a 'lollipop' that sits directly on the tongue, where densely packed nerves receive the incoming electrical signals. White pixels yield a strong electrical pulse and the electrodes spatially correlate with the pixels, so that if the camera detects light fixtures in the middle of a dark hallway, electrical stimulations will occur along the center of the tongue. Within 15 minutes of using the device, blind people can begin interpreting spatial information. 'At first, I was amazed at what the device could do,' says research director William Seiple. 'One guy started to cry when he saw his first letter.'" There is some indication that the signals from the tongue are processed by the visual cortex. The company developing the BrainPort will submit it to the FDA for approval later this month, and it could be on sale (for around $10,000) by the end of the year.

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131 comments

Hey Sexy! (5, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160243)

Oooh hello pretty lady, come on over here and let me get a good lick at you.

Re:Hey Sexy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29160379)

Sir, that kind of post belongs on Fark. We don't take kindly to your type around here.

Re:Ah Schehe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29160523)

Oooh Hewo thuwee ulaghee, huam ong owa hea ang leh meh geh a gooa lich ach ewe.

Re:Ah Schehe (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29160627)

That's Swahili for "now the blind can hate niggers too!" If niggers taste the way they smell, they will REALLY hate them!

Re:Ah Schehe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29160723)

This man has the right of it.

Skittles ad campaigns finally pay off (5, Funny)

Scott64 (1181495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160255)

"Taste the rainbow" was the first thing that came to mind when I read this.

Re:Skittles ad campaigns finally pay off (4, Funny)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29161249)

I just remember that episode of the Tick, where Arthur was turned into a giant tongue. As they ran, he shouted in horror, "I can taste the floor!"

tastes like... (2, Funny)

thadmiller (1435871) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160259)

Does that mean ugly girls "taste like shit"?

Nothing new here... (4, Informative)

imikedaman (1268650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160267)

I'm pretty sure I read about this exact thing years ago. Weren't there issues with the tongue being "low resolution" and interfering with eating and talking?

Re:Nothing new here... (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160445)

Yeah, I kdawson is so far behind that I've actually seen a DOCUMENTARY on this one! And that was about 5 years ago!

Re:Nothing new here... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29161703)

I'm pretty sure I read about this exact thing years ago. Weren't there issues with the tongue being "low resolution" and interfering with eating and talking?

I guess now parents of formerly-blind kids will be scolding them for "looking with their mouths full".

Re:Nothing new here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29162655)

I also remember reading about issues with the nerves becoming desensitised by the continuous stimulation.

Re:Nothing new here... (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 4 years ago | (#29164047)

Weren't there issues with the tongue being "low resolution"

Yes, but it's 2009 now. NewEgg just started shipping HD tongues. The problem has been... licked.

Re:Nothing new here... (2, Insightful)

lessthan (977374) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165685)

Yeah, I was thinking that too, then I read the rest of the summary. They are submitting the BrainPort to the FDA this month. That is why it is news.

Pattern Stream Processing. (5, Informative)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160331)

The human brain is adept at processing pattern streams. These are two-dimensional datasets that change over regular intervals of time. In the specific case of this tongue-sight project, they are taking advantage of the ability of the tongue to transmit many "pixels" of sensory information in a square grid. Which pins poked into the tongue governed what the brain got that instant of time. So, by reading the changing pattern of the dots, the brain can learn to process that pattern stream in the same way it learns to process the pattern stream that is the million or so "pixels" of information each eye sends, each unit of time. The left brain hemisphere processes Linear-Sequential Information. The right brain hemisphere processes Visual-Simultaneous Information. We know that from the Nobel-prize-winning [1980] research of Dr. Roger Sperry. Current computers process information in a linear, sequential fashion--much like the left hemisphere works. The true breakthroughs in AI will come when we can process and interpret the pattern streams that reach the right hemisphere, the image-oriented streams. The complex interplay between the faster linear-sequential hemisphere and the holistic visual-simultaneous hemisphere is what creates consciousness. This tongue-stream is a great idea.

Re:Pattern Stream Processing. (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#29161031)

complex interplay...is what creates consciousness Isn't that like saying that a "complex interplay" between a male and a female "creates" life? In other words, "we are still in the stone-age folks, sorry...but hey, we got a complex interplay here! We know that for sure."

Re:Pattern Stream Processing. (2, Insightful)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 4 years ago | (#29162417)

You were doing so well for about half a post then it all went to shit :)

The order in which data is input into a computer makes no difference, processing is typically done frame by frame for a visual dataset, so each cycle (not CPU..) of processing acts on the whole 2D structure in one go.

Besides, hardware based artificial neural networks for processing images process 2D pixel arrays in parallel.

Also I think you're miles off when it comes to consciousness. Despite many claims I don't think anyone's really anywhere near any real idea of what it is. I think it might be an emergent property of certain types of complex system, but that's as much of a guess as yours is and I'm not going to try to state it as fact.

Re:Pattern Stream Processing. (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165245)

The complex interplay between the faster linear-sequential hemisphere and the holistic visual-simultaneous hemisphere is what creates consciousness.

This is a long jump to a conclusion. It's much more plausible that there is simply some "program" somewhere that fools us into believing that we are conscious. A much more complex version of:

10 PRINT "I AM CONSCIOUS"
20 GOTO 10

Colours (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29160355)

So what does blue taste like?

Re:Colours (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29161693)

I don't know. I don't have that kind of synesthesia!

Re:Colours (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29162749)

Considering this works by converting to grayscale and sending brighter pixels using a higher signal, I'm guessing the relatively dark hue of blue will taste like very little indeed. So probably "chicken".

How about the back or chest? (2, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160375)

Sure, the resolution won't be as fine but it will be a lot less obtrusive to wear a sensor wrapped around your torso than to have something on your tongue with a wire sticking out of your mouth.

A practical version of that sensor net the blind lady wore on Star Trek back in the '60s will likely be on the market before 2067, assuming technology doesn't leapfrog it entirely.

Re:How about the back or chest? (4, Informative)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160419)

Sure, the resolution won't be as fine but it will be a lot less obtrusive to wear a sensor wrapped around your torso than to have something on your tongue with a wire sticking out of your mouth.

A practical version of that sensor net the blind lady wore on Star Trek back in the '60s will likely be on the market before 2067, assuming technology doesn't leapfrog it entirely.

From TFA:

The key to the device may be its utilization of the tongue, which seems to be an ideal organ for sensing electrical current. Saliva there functions as a good conductor, Seiple said. Also it might help that the tongue's nerve fibers are densely packaged and that these fibers are closer to the tongue's surface relative to other touch organs. (The surfaces of fingers, for example, are covered with a layer of dead cells called stratum corneum.)

Re:How about the back or chest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29161099)

I remember seeing something like that using mechanically actuated pins (rather than electrical stimulation) on a gizmo strapped to the person's back, quite a number of years ago.

Re:How about the back or chest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29162363)

Well as John said, the tongue is the best, unobtrusive way of detecting input.

Fingers are covered in dead cells.
The backs nerve cells are too far apart probably, the brain will unlikely make any sense of these signals.
Think of it in similar terms to how you can't feel the air pressure, but when you rub for long enough (easier under water), oh hell you can certainly feel the air pressure then...

The tongue is just one of those organs that the brain hasn't seen much activity on, when it first happens it would be like turning on the main light of a room compared to the average LEDs on a computer. (the annoyingly bright ones)
The time it takes to be able to interpret it would be the brain trying to make sense of what it is.
It would probably take less time if the person was actually connected to a computer first to send 100% B&W (no grays) images, it would probably be able to understand these quicker and know that image data was being rewired through the tongue.

Re:How about the back or chest? (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29162579)

It's been done. This device appears to stem directly from Paul Bach-y-Rita's experiments as early as 1972 in providing blind people with vision via a video camera connected to a grid (16x16 or 20x20) of tappers on the back or belly of the subject, who quite quickly learned to interpret those signals in a manner that appeared to be similar to vision. I can only assume the tongue method is better, since that's what they've moved onto now.

Re:How about the back or chest? (1)

lessthan (977374) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165751)

The big problem with the back or the chest is that the voltage required to breach your skin and contact your nerves is also the amount of voltage that fries those nerves. The tongue has all those nerves right there with minimal protection.

Nothing to see here (1)

DarkNinja75 (990459) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160383)

I don't know if I'm the only one who's absolutely amazed by this.

Re:Nothing to see here (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160479)

The hardware seems like a fairly pedestrian evolution of cheap image sensors and high-density fabrication techniques.

The fact that the brain will, fairly swiftly, being interpreting electrical pulses on the tongue as visual input blows my insufficiently capacious mind.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 4 years ago | (#29161837)

The fact that the brain will, fairly swiftly, being interpreting electrical pulses on the tongue as visual input blows my insufficiently capacious mind.

I don't really see why. Put a (clean) marble in your mouth without looking at it, and you will probably visualize its spherical shape even though you have obtained all your high-resolution sensation through your tongue. Stumble around in the dark and grab something off your table. Even though you can't see it, chances are that as soon as you pick it up you'll still "see" it.

Granted, you have a lifetime of visual experience to draw upon, much of which is stored alongside tactile memories of the same event. In such a case it may be more a triggering of memories than of visualization. It still proves the point that our brains can take data from the eyes and from touch, and realize that they are two different angles on the same object.

Ideally it would be best to perform this function somewhere that causes less obstruction to other functions. I heard about a similar (though much larger, and mechanical) grid that was placed on a patient's back, on the basis that there were few everyday functions that would be interfered with. The main problem was the low density of touch receptors in the back. We've evolved to have maximum concentrations of receptors where we need them, so technology can usurp them for some other purpose, but it can't get around the fact that they now can't perform that other purpose.

The obvious way to do it in the long run would be to route the data through the one high bandwidth path that blind people aren't using -- the optic nerves. At that point we would basically have artificial eyes. Once the link works, the rest can be done in software.

Also it seems to me that sometimes the whole camera system can be bypassed. Why make a computer throw images onto a monitor, point a camera at that monitor, and downsample it for the tongue interface? Couldn't the computer just send the image directly to the user's visual processor?

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29163123)

> The fact that the brain will, fairly swiftly, being interpreting electrical pulses on the tongue as visual input blows my insufficiently capacious mind.

It shouldn't if you've played that game where people write letters on your back (or hand or elsewhere) and you are supposed to "read" them by touch alone.

Anyway, add:
1) higher resolution
2) alternate input channels (tongue is rather inconvenient)
3) output (there's tech that allows humans and other animals to control stuff just by thinking)
4) wireless/wired networking.
5) thought macros (plus escape sequences and brain sleep detection, to prevent accidental activation)
6) a portable computer system with a long battery life and a smart program on it.
7) room/area servers

And you'll get augmented reality, virtual telepathy and telekinesis.

Seeing Sound? (4, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160425)

About 20 years ago I thought of a device for deaf people to "see sound" after reading that researchers have learned to read spoken words from from gray-scale sound spectrograms (frequency plots).

Now an off-the-shelf PDA or iPhone could probably do the trick of showing a plot with the right software. Some slashdot readers claimed it's too hard to learn if you never heard sound before. But it may be worth a try. Besides, some deaf people used to hear before an injury or illness. It's basically pattern-recognition, something humans are pretty good at given sufficient feedback.

Perhaps these devices can be combined and the frequency plots could flow through the tongue. However, I suspect there's insufficient resolution that way, and eyeballing it would be better. But, it's worth a try.

Re:Seeing Sound? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29160813)

There are many people with sensory disorders that can see sound. Most of them don't like it but they're usually not deaf.

Re:Seeing Sound? (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29163399)

Yeah, but they're not actually observing the world with their cross-sensory perceptions. Just because you pop chocolate in your mouth and taste blue, does not mean the chocolate is blue colored.

Re:Seeing Sound? (3, Interesting)

ozydingo (922211) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160951)

An iPhone or PDA easily has enough computing power to do a real-time spectrogram, but to be nitpicky, it's a time-frequency plot, not just a frequency plot. In my experience it's pretty hard to pick up the ability to read spectrograms of speech accurately and quickly, then again it's not my only access to speech. At the very least it would increase a deaf user's awareness of sound in his or her environment, and there would be at least a minimum level of discrimination between various types of sounds.

As for alternate modes of sensation (assuming something like a cochlear implant is a no-go), look into some of the work being done in vibro-tactile devices - http://techtv.mit.edu/genres/18-education/videos/3557-speakers-and-signers-ted-moallem-sensible-technologies----sensory-communication-aids-for-the-developing-world [mit.edu]

Re:Seeing Sound? (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 4 years ago | (#29161401)

My hunch - which I am unqualified to back up - would be that the brain might link the spectral plot to frequencies if it always occurred in the same area. eg, 440Hz always triggers the same nerve, and a chord always triggers the same set of nerves. The PDA could be anywhere in your field of vision, so the brain would have to interpret the images through visual processing, which is not well suited to handling sound. Perhaps it would be possible by holding the PDA at a fixed distance and fixating on a dot in the middle, but IMO it'll be hard to get consistent signal-to-nerve mapping through the eyes.

I think it might work better having the spectrum represented as touch along some line with enough nerve density to get decent resolution - Perhaps low frequencies all the way down an arm, and then bands of high frequencies along the fingers - though you'd have to compensate for signal propagation delays down the arm. It'd also help that touch has much better temporal resolution than vision.

Re:Seeing Sound? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29161763)

Vice versa, camera phones can already spectrographically sound images for the blind - to let them see with sound:
http://www.artificialvision.com/midlet.htm (MIDlet for Nokia phones)
http://www.artificialvision.com/android.htm (for Android phones)

Re:Seeing Sound? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29164393)

why not go 1 step further & have the software process the sound phonemes and print out the syllables? or go even further and have it guess the likely word for the sound?
(anon coz i dont have account)

Not good at dinner. (0, Troll)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160521)

From TFA:

Seiple works with four patients who train with the BrainPort once a week and notes that his patients have learned how to quickly find doorways and elevator buttons, read letters and numbers, and pick out cups and forks at the dinner table without having to fumble around.

OK, but then what do they do with it. They'll be able to pick a fork or spoon up, but they won't be able to see where the food on the plate is one they start eating. After you pick up the fork and begin to feed yourself, this things kinda worthless.

Re:Not good at dinner. (1)

jbacon (1327727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160605)

People who have been blind for a long time are very good at remembering where things are. I'm willing to bet that a guy can remember which bit of food was where on his plate after having looked at it once.
.
Of course, this is totally irrelevant anyway. Oh no! I can't see my food while I'm eating it! THE HORROR!

Re:Not good at dinner. (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 4 years ago | (#29161407)

Blind people die at a very young age because of starvation for not being able to clear their plate.

Bert

probably done by faggots (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29160583)

fags keep spreading disease and have put a burden on the tax payers of this nation. they're causing health care costs to increase. they need to be stopped from their faggot ways. if they would stop we might not need all this political turmoil we're in now.

Shittles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29160657)

Taste the asshole

Could give another meaning... (1, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160677)

... to dark chocolate.

Now they must build magnetic orientation belts, infrared patches and smelly radiation detectors.

Wonderful! (3, Informative)

Zitchas (713512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160685)

I don't have the link ready to hand, but the technology behind this was posted to slashdot quiet a while ago. (At least many months, possibly over a year ago) Anyway, I was wondering when we would hear about this technology again, since it has tremendous potential both for sight-restoration applications, as well as furthur development towards the integration of machine and brains. If the resolution was high enough, for instance, a pilot could use this to see underneath the plane, or in other directions normally blocked. The potential application for guided search and rescue, and other remote controlled devices is also large. "being" there is better than simply seeing on a screen, after all, even if virtually. I hope that the various gov't and none-profit groups that support the visually impaired take note of this as a way to help people become active and contributing parts of society again. It's nice to take care of the impaired, but better to help them regain their independence.

Re:Wonderful! (1)

shervinemami (1270718) | more than 4 years ago | (#29162745)

In 2006 & 2007 I was working at the American company that was working on this. I was working on a different project so I don't know the exact details, but I know they were using the BrainPort to let blind people see things (sending electrical spikes onto the tongue with a resolution of 64 points on the tongue). But it was actually funded by the military to allow hi-tech soldiers to get extra information through their tongue.

The demo they were working on at the time was to allow the soldier to get an idea of where their fellow soldiers where, through the BrainPort. After some practise, they can tell through their tongue that they have a soldier behind them on their left and 2 more coming on their right, for example. Here is a little description of the project: http://www.ihmc.us/research/projects/SensorySubstitution/ [www.ihmc.us]

Re:Wonderful! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29163813)

An earlier version of this used a grid of solenoids that the user wore on their back. The pressure of the solenoids represented graduations of light intensity. It worked quite well once people had learnt to see with it.

I wonder if the resolution of this implementation is any better? It should at least use less power than the solenoid method.

I'd imagine however that something you could wear under your clothes would look less silly.

 

Why restrict this to the blind? (1, Insightful)

drrobin_ (131741) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160735)

This is the most promising bit of cybernetics news I have seen in quite a while. I've been hoping that some day within my lifespan artificial senses could be used. Well, now it looks like they can. Maybe they make for low-resolution video, maybe they can be used for information readout. Yeah, it would look weird, but this can give you (for example) a read heads-up display that doesn't interfere with your vision. Or an interface for processing senses from remotely controlled robots. Imagine the fun business users would have being able to "read" their email while driving. The possibilities are endless.

Re:Why restrict this to the blind? (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29160925)

I'd prefer they don't. Greater bandwidth doesn't mean greater processing capability.

Re:Why restrict this to the blind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29161135)

$10,000

Re:Why restrict this to the blind? (1)

s1lverl0rd (1382241) | more than 4 years ago | (#29162435)

Reading you email while driving without hitting anything? Won't someone think of the children?

Re:Why restrict this to the blind? (1)

Zitchas (713512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29163369)

Exactly. The possibilities of this are endless, and it could be a major step down the path towards true cybernetic integration (or the Mind/Machine Interface, as some think of it). Starting out with applying it to the blind and otherwise visually impaired serves two important points:

1) Public perception. There is bound to eventually be an outcry in some sectors about the sanctity of human beings and how machines shouldn't be wired into people and vice versa, machines reading our minds, etc. If the technology has a working application of serious humane benefit, which the gov't is actually pursuing, this negates this to large extent.

2) Technological progression. If the gov't and others are putting money into it, it will most likely progress faster and more reliably than if it has to depend on commercial sources who understandably want to make money off it. And if it stops looking like it will make money... There goes the project into obscurity.

There have been numerous articles on Slashdot and various science sites on how the human brain can adapt to other forms of "senses". The vibrating belt that always indicated North, the possibility of humans learning to echonavigate, and many, many others. While the tongue is maybe not the most convenient way of integrating with our neural system, it is at least demonstrating the possibility. Once the technology starts to mature, deeper and more invasive integration starts to become possible. While I doubt we'd get to the point of being like the Matrix, how about something more like Harper from Andromeda? A network jack of some kind in one's neck, and thus a direct link in to appropriately configured equipment.

And on that note, while I'd find it immensely cool and useful to be able to access, manipulate, and process data via a direct cable feed, I'd hate to have a wireless connection. Imagine being able to drive-by hack somebody's head? Talk about the privacy issues with that...

Re:Why restrict this to the blind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29163653)

It's not being restricted to the blind, it's being initially developed for them, because a) it will help them, b) that's a good way to get funding, and c) if it doesn't work and explodes in someone's mouth, they aren't going to be able to see the developers to chase them down.

Also, it'd be pretty awesome for night-vision and other such applications.

The Brain That Changes Itself (4, Interesting)

smcdow (114828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29161551)

You can read all about the work leading up to this device, why it works, amazing stories of recovery from brain injury, and other cool stuff in a book called The Brain That Changes Itself [amazon.com].

This is one of the best books I've ever read.

This is great! (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29161673)

I'll get one of these, mount the camera part on the back of my bike helmet, and be able to "see" both forward and backwards at the same time!

I can finally get rid of that helmet-mounted mirror, so I won't look like a dork anymore!

Re:This is great! (1)

bi_boy (630968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29162057)

I like those helmet mounted mirrors, I see them on bicyclists sometimes when they ride by the house. Makes me think of some cool futuristic personal HUD.

...Which I guess is still dorky. But its a good dorky cos it's cool.

Neuroplasticity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29162669)

This is an application of neuroplasticity.
A scientist developed long time ago a special chair that enabled to remap the vision function for blind people without the need for using their eyes, he developed an other device for NASA astronauts to remap the missing feeling of touching when working with thick gloves.

Neuroplasticity is detailed in an entire book by Norman Doidge, MD | The Brain That Changes Itself.

From the book: Neuro is for neuron, the nerve cells in our brains and nervous systems. Plastic is for changeable, malleable, modifiable. At first many of the scientists didnâ(TM)t dare use the word neuroplasticity in their publications, and their peers belittled them for promoting a fanciful notion. Yet they persisted, slowly overturning the doctrine of the unchanging brain. They showed that children are not always stuck with the mental abilities they are born with; that the damaged brain can often reorganize itself so that when one part fails, another can often substitute; that if brain cells die, they can at times be replaced; that many circuits and even basic reflexes that we think are hardwired are not. One of these scientists even showed that thinking, learning, and acting can turn our genes on or off, thus shaping our brain anatomy and our behaviorâ"surely one of the most extraordinary discoveries of the twentieth century.
In the course of my travels I met a scientist who enabled people who had been blind since birth to begin to see, another who enabled the deaf to hear;
The book is a must read.

Try the inside of the cheek? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29162859)

The insides of the cheeks are not as sensitive but the available area is larger, binocular vision might be possible, and it might be possible to leave the electrodes in while talking and perhaps even while eating.

(My wife's idea, not mine.)

Useful for sighted people? (2, Interesting)

Mprx (82435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29162953)

Tactile reaction time is faster than visual reaction time. If the resolution is high enough and the switching time fast enough, could this system be advantageous where fast reactions are needed (eg. games, sport, driving, combat, etc.). Could it be combined with normal vision for a kind of minor precognition?

How about using it for extended vision with more frequency channels, wider or narrower field of vision, faster automatic brightness control, etc? Touch has multiple channels but how many are high enough resolution to be useful?

As anyone who's used psychedelic drugs will know, the human visual system is bottlenecked by the eyes. The brain can certainly handle more powerful sensors so we should be working on making them.

Retainer. (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 4 years ago | (#29163913)

If you coated a retainer with the visual surface, it would then attach to the teeth, and you could see by pressing the tounge to the roof of the mouth... or drop the tongue to speak/drink (not sure about eating, do you normally take out the retainer?)

Mod Parent Up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29164923)

If you coated a retainer with the visual surface, it would then attach to the teeth, and you could see by pressing the tounge to the roof of the mouth... or drop the tongue to speak/drink (not sure about eating, do you normally take out the retainer?)

That's a great idea.

Re:Retainer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29165659)

Yes you do.

The inverse (2, Interesting)

MathiasRav (1210872) | more than 4 years ago | (#29164287)

I'd love to be able to see tastes - that is, have my sense of taste piped to the brain as vision instead of taste. I wouldn't want my vision permanently replaced, but I'd love to experience the brain visualising what I taste. And hey, instead of the usual 3 dimensions [wikipedia.org] (or more if you're lucky [wikipedia.org]), you'd have 5 factors [wikipedia.org] to go with.

Re:The inverse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29165253)

LSD and Mushrooms are what you want then I believe!

Synesthesia (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 4 years ago | (#29164621)

This almost sounds like an induced form of synesthesia [wikipedia.org], a condition where someone's senses operate involuntarily as a merged experience. For example, sounds that generate visual feedback or brief changes in taste.

Bad taste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29165277)

Interesting, but the fatal flaw is there's a possiblity of tasting this [goatse.cx].

Dual scene sight? (1)

kiick (102190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29165381)

What I want to know is, will this work for a sighted person? If the tongue seer is looking at one scene, and your eyes are looking at another, can the brain sort them out and allow a person to see two different things at once. Meaningfully, I mean. If so, there could be a lot of applications. And implications. If the brain can see in two directions at once, we could extend our visual senses in all kinds of ways.
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