Now the Blinds Can See with Their TONGUES!
What if we tell you that your blind friend can now see with his or her tongue? Shocked? We were too when we found out about this device that could make a blind man see with this tongue. The American singer and song writer Marilyn Manson once said
You can’t force someone to see the truth, just like you can’t force a blind man to see at all
But with the help of the Brainport V100 device we can surely help the blind people around us to see and that too with their tongues.
In the year 2015, the Food and Drug Administration USA (FDA) announced that the medical device company Wicab is allowed to sell out their device in the states, though the device was already being marketed.
Background of the Device
Paul Bach-y-Rita co-founded a company called the Wicab in the year 1998. The company was dedicated to produce devices that would use sensory stimulation to produce devices for visual impairment.
The concept of the Brainport device takes us back to the work of Paul Bach-y-Rita, an American neuroscientist, who had worked on the sensory substitution in the early 1960s. Paul and his team has recognized the human organ, tongue, as a suited organ for electro tactile stimulation, they said this because the tongue is a very sensitive organ having dimensional and structural discriminative ability. Not only this but the tongue of every individual has a very small variability in sensitivity and the texture, among the individuals, as compared to the skin which very largely varies among individuals.
The presence of the saliva on the tongue acts as an electrolytic solution, ensuring that the tongue is a low resistance surface, making it suitable for electrical stimulation and decreasing the need for high current levels to ensure reproducible and safe stimulus intensity levels.
It Looks a Little Weird!
The device looks a little weird, with consisting of a tongue-stimulating electrode which are connected and a pair of dark glasses too, which has a tiny video camera attached to it. The glasses and the electrodes are connected with a device which is grasped with a battery-operated device. When the cameras in the glasses sense the visual stimulus, the software installed in the device converts the information sensed to electrical signals which are then sent by the brain to the person’s tongue in from of vibrations.
It Surely is Expensive!
There are around 285 million people in the world who are blind and not all of them can afford the Brainport V100 device considering how expensive it is. The device is said to be of around $10,000, which is a lot.
This isn’t the first time that a device is made which is works by sensing a stimulus, this one surely is on the expensive side. But a lot of people do believe that the prices will surely decrease considering the device is still new and a lot of people still don’t know about it. But as time will pass by more people will get educated about it and hopefully the prices will decrease, fingers crossed!
Disadvantages of the Brainport V100
Just like any other things present in this developing world, this device too has some disadvantages which are very obvious, to start with one can not speak, drink or eat while the device is still in use. Other than this the next biggest disadvantage is that the device is VERY expensive, even for a Richie Rich.