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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a device can help bind people sense objects using their tongues.
The BrainPort V100 is a battery-powered device, which works along with a cane or guide dog. According to its makers, the device can help a person process vital images and better sense their surroundings.
The BrainPort, manufactured by the company Wicab based in Middleton, Wisconsin, has a video camera mounted on a pair of glasses. The glasses also have a fixture that goes inside the mouth.
This particular part of the device contains 400 electrodes which user places on his or her tongue. When the device captures images with the video camera, it transports the pictures as electric signals to the mouthpiece through vibrations.
As described by the company, the device makes a user feel 'moving bubble-like patterns' - like a mouthful of seltzer - on the surface of the tongue. This allows him to see the shape and contours of objects by sensing the vibration or tingling.
Light-colored pixels are felt on the tongue as strong stimulation, grey pixels produce medium stimulation and black pixels don't produce any stimulation.
The company told that the camera works in a variety of lighting and even has a zoom feature.
With the suitable training, a particular user can learn to interpret the signals and will then have the ability to sense the location, position, size and shape of objects and determine if the objects are in motion or still, it added.
So far, they have found that users complete a minimum of 10 hours of one-on-one training on the device.