Intraoral Tongue Drive System

The Tongue Drive System for people with high-level spinal cord injuries has become more sophisticated and less obtrusive.


(Intraoral Tongue Drive System)
The circuitry for the new intraoral Tongue Drive System
developed at Georgia Tech is embedded in this dental retainer
worn in the mouth (right). The system interprets commands
from seven different tongue movements to operate a computer
or maneuver an electrically powered wheelchair.
(Credit: Maysam Ghovanloo)

The newest prototype of the system allows users to wear an inconspicuous dental retainer embedded with sensors to control the system. The sensors track the location of a tiny magnet attached to the tongues of users. In earlier versions of the Tongue Drive System, the sensors that track the movement of the magnet on the tongue were mounted on a headset worn by the user.

By moving the sensors inside the mouth, we have created a Tongue Drive System with increased mechanical stability and comfort that is nearly unnoticeable, said Maysam Ghovanloo, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The new dental appliance contains magnetic field sensors mounted on its four corners that detect movement of a tiny magnet attached to the tongue. It also includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and an induction coil to charge the battery. The circuitry fits in the space available on the retainer, which sits against the roof of the mouth and is covered with an insulating, water-resistant material and vacuum-molded inside standard dental acrylic.

Fans of Alfred Bester's 1956 novel The Stars My Destination may recall that he used a similar idea: a dental "switchboard" that was tongue-controlled.

He pressed hard with his tongue against his right upper first molar. The operation that had transformed half his body into an electronic machine, had located the control switchboard in his teeth. Foyle pressed a tooth with his tongue and the peripheral cells of his retina were excited into emitting a soft light...
(Read more about Bester's dental switchboard)

From Mouth Gear: Tongue Drive System Goes Inside the Mouth to Improve Performance and User Comfort via ; thanks to an anonymous reader who wrote in with the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/28/2013)

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