Tongue piercing magnet controller helps navigate wheelchairs
2013-11-29 0:00

By Liat Clark | Wired

A team of electrical engineers has published a study revealing that a magnetic tongue piercing-controller allows those with tetraplegia to navigate a wheelchair three times faster than the traditional sip-and-puff system, but with the same accuracy.

The Tongue Drive System (TDS) was developed by Maysam Ghovanloo, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and was tested among able-bodied individuals and those with tetraplegia in collaboration with a team from the Shepherd Centre in Atlanta, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. The idea is to use the inherent flexibility of the tongue to make everyday tasks easier and faster -- the most obvious of these, being the control of a wheelchair’s movement.

A tiny magnet is embedded in the upper ball of a tongue piercing and its precise location is tracked by a wireless headset that measures the changing magnetic field. That data is then transmitted to a smartphone hooked up to the chair.


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