Anne Laumann, a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, has helped to design something that could drastically improve the way paralyzed individuals get around. She has designed the Tongue Drive System, which allows wheelchairs to be controlled with, you guessed it – a tongue. Using a magnetic stud inserted into the tongue (similar to a tongue jewelry piercing), individuals can move their tongues in whatever direction they would like to go. This magnetic stud effectively turns the tongue into a joystick when paired with a specialized headset and smartphone app. If they’d like to go forward, they simply move their tongues forward. If they want to go left or right, they move their tongues to the left or right. Each flick of their tongue will guide the wheelchair in a different direction.
Could This Be The Future For Wheelchair Bound Individuals?
The Tongue Drive System could change many people’s lives for the better. Today, many paraplegics and quadriplegics operate their wheelchairs by either sucking or blowing air through a specialized straw. The Tongue Drive System promises to allow for more than just the “simple” commands offered by these wheelchairs. Researchers chose to put the magnetic stud in the tongue because they discovered that most people with various spinal cord injuries still maintained the use of their tongues.
The Tongue Drive System has been tested out by 11 paralyzed individuals. By the end of the testing, each of the individuals preferred it to their previous sip-n-puff wheelchairs. If it becomes successful within the paralyzed community at large, designers eventually hope to add some other features to the Tongue Drive System – namely, turning on the lights and the television with the tongue.
It seems there is no end to the ways technology can assist us with day to day life. Here’s to hoping that the Tongue Drive System helps individuals who are paralyzed have as normal of a life as they can.
[Image via Fox News]