The latest invention of neuroscientists from Middleton, Wisc.-based Wicab, Inc. represents a gadget that can help blind or those with extremely low vision to see using their tongue. The Wicab BrainPort collects information gathered by a small digital camera mounted on a pair of glasses and then transmits it to a "lollipop" electrode array which the user attaches to their tongue.
The device's digital camera sends the light information to a base unit that has the size of a usual mobile phone. Afterwards the small base unit translates the light information into electrical impulses, thus substituting retina's function. Then the base unit transmits that information to a set of 400 microelectrodes that are positioned on the paddle placed on the user's tongue. The article in Scientific American explains that the microelectrodes excite the nerves on the surface on a person's tongue. Those, who have already tested the latest invention, enjoyed the feeling of Pop Rocks candies on their tongue.
It is also worth mentioning that the base unit of the device includes such functions as zoom control, light settings control and intensity.In addition, the Wicab BrainPort allows seeing cups and forks on the table.
This latest invention is expected to hit the market by the end of 2009. Its initial price will be about $10,000 per device. link....