The Taste of Vision: The BrainPort

Posted: December 19, 2011 in Miscellaneous
Tags: , , , ,

I saw an amazing article in the paper a few days back about a new innovation in technology to improve sight for the blind.

A device called a BrainPort has been devised to provide sight to the blind, somehow using the tongue. I’m no science guy, but seemingly a camera is mounted on top of a pair of glasses which is then connected to to a sensor placed on the patient’s tongue. The camera collects visual data about the surrounding area which is then transmitted as electric signals to the base unit placed on the tongue. The base unit then translates these signals into a stimulation pattern which creates the visual image for the participant.

According to the official website, “the tactile image is created by presenting white pixels from the camera as strong stimulation, black pixels as no stimulation, and gray levels as medium levels of stimulation, with the ability to invert contrast when appropriate.  Users often report the sensation as pictures that are painted on the tongue with Champagne bubbles.”

How incredible does that sound? Still, I really have no depth of understanding about the technical performance of the device, but as a layman it sounds absolutely miraculous. For there to be any solution to blindness, not matter how vague, is an amazing innovation! Although, I would have called it ‘The Stevie Tongue-der’.

See more below:

The device is being trialed on PC David Rathband, who lost his sight after being shot in the face by gunman Raoul Moat. I can’t think of a more deserving candidate. Still only in its prototype stage the BrainPort is not yet available to purchase, but if the trial is a success it is sure to be a global phenomenon. Watch this space… (sorry if that sounds a little insensitive.)


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