Topics: Visual perception, Blindness, Sensory system Pages: 21 (5830 words) Published: December 25, 2013



The device which sends visual input through tongue in much the same way that seeing individuals receive visual input through the eyes is called the “Brainport Vision Device”. BrainPort could provide vision-impaired people with limited forms of sight. To produce tactile vision, BrainPort uses a camera to capture visual data. The optical information -- light that would normally hit the retina -- that the camera picks up is in digital form, and it uses radio signals to send the ones and zeroes to the CPU for encoding. Each set of pixels in the camera's light sensor corresponds to an electrode in the array. The CPU runs a program that turns the camera's electrical information into a spatially encoded signal. The encoded signal represents differences in pixel data as differences in pulse characteristics such as frequency, amplitude and duration. Technically, this device is underlying a principle called “electrotactile stimulation for sensory substitution”, an area of study that involves using encoded electric current to represent sensory information and applying that current to the skin, which sends the information to the brain.


A blind woman sits in a chair holding a video camera focused on a scientist sitting in front of her. She has a device in her mouth, touching her tongue, and there are wires running from that device to the video camera. The woman has been blind since birth and doesn't really know what a rubber ball looks like, but the scientist is holding one. And when he suddenly rolls it in her direction, she puts out a hand to stop it. The blind woman saw the ball through her tongue. Well, not exactly through her tongue, but the device in her mouth sent visual input through her tongue in much the same way that seeing individuals receive visual input through the eyes. In both cases, the initial sensory input mechanism -- the tongue or the eyes -- sends the visual data to the brain, where that data is processed and interpreted to form images. Braille is a typical example of sensory substitution -- in this case, you're using one sense, touch, to

take in information normally intended for another sense, vision. Electrotactile stimulation is a higher-tech method of receiving somewhat similar (although more surprising) results, and it's based on the idea that the brain can interpret sensory information even if it's not provided via the natural channel.An electric lollipop that allows the blind to ‘see’ using their tongue has been developed by scientists.

Fig.1 Position of device

The machine is called the Brain Port vision device and is manufactured by Wicab, a biomedical engineering company based in Middleton, Wis. It relies on sensory substitution, the process in which if one sense is damaged, the part of the brain that would normally control that sense can learn to perform another function.

About two million optic nerves are required to transmit visual signals from the retina— the portion of the eye where light information is decoded or translated into nerve pulses—to the brain’s primary visual cortex. With Brain Port, the device being developed by neuroscientists at Middleton, Wisc.–based Wicab, Inc. (a company co-founded by the late Back-y-Rita), visual data are collected through a small digital video camera about 1.5 centimeters in diameter that sits in the center of a pair

of sunglasses worn by the user. Bypassing the eyes, the data are transmitted to a handheld base unit, which is a little larger than a cell phone. This unit houses such features as zoom control, light settings and shock intensity levels as well as a central processing unit (CPU), which converts the digital signal into...

References:  Bach-y-Rita, Paul et al. "Form perception with a 49-point electrotactile stimulus array on the tongue: A technical note." Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development.
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