Tongue Drive Wireless Device Operates Computers and Wheelchairs
Synopsis: Tongue Drive wireless device enables people with high level spinal cord injuries to operate a computer and maneuver an electrically powered wheelchair by moving their tongue. By moving the sensors inside the mouth, we have created a Tongue Drive System with increased mechanical stability and nearly unnoticeable comfort. The circuitry fits in the space available on the retainer, which sits against the roof of the mouth and is covered with an insulating, water-resistant material and vacuum-molded inside standard dental acrylic.
- Tongue Drive System (TDS)
- A Tongue Drive System (TDS) is a tongue-operated, unobtrusive, minimally invasive, wireless assistive technology (AT) that can enable people with severe disabilities to control different devices using their tongues. TDS can translate specific tongue movements into user-defined commands by detecting the position of a small permanent magnetic tracer attached to the user's tongue.
Tongue Drive is a wireless device that enables people with high-level spinal cord injuries to operate a computer and maneuver an electrically powered wheelchair simply by moving their tongues.
Tongue Drive System
The Tongue Drive System is getting less conspicuous and more capable. The newest prototype of the system allows users to wear an inconspicuous dental retainer embedded with sensors to control the system.
The sensors track the location of a tiny magnet attached to users' tongues. In earlier versions of the Tongue Drive System, the sensors that track the movement of the magnet on the tongue were mounted on a headset worn by the user.
"By moving the sensors inside the mouth, we have created a Tongue Drive System with increased mechanical stability and comfort that is nearly unnoticeable," said Maysam Ghovanloo, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The new intraoral Tongue Drive System was presented and demonstrated on Feb. 20, 2012, at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. Development of the system is supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
Magnetic Field Sensors
The new dental appliance contains magnetic field sensors on its four corners that detect the movement of a tiny magnet attached to the tongue. It also includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and an induction coil to charge the battery. The circuitry fits in the space available on the retainer, which sits against the roof of the mouth and is covered with an insulating, water-resistant material and vacuum-molded inside standard dental acrylic.
"One of the problems we encountered with the earlier headset was that it could shift on a user's head, and the system would need to be re-calibrated," explained Ghovanloo. "Because the dental appliance is worn inside the mouth and molded from dental impressions to fit tightly around an individual's teeth with clasps, it is protected from these disturbances."
When in use, the output signals from the sensors are wirelessly transmitted to an iPod or iPhone. Software installed on the iPod interprets the user's tongue commands by determining the relative position of the magnet concerning the array of sensors in real-time. This information is used to control the movements of a cursor on the computer screen or to substitute for the joystick function in a powered wheelchair.
Ghovanloo and his team have also created a universal interface for the intraoral Tongue Drive System that attaches directly to a standard electric wheelchair. The interface boasts multiple functions: it not only holds the iPod but also wirelessly receives the sensor data and delivers it to the iPod, connects the iPod to the wheelchair, charges the iPod, and includes a container where the dental retainer can be placed at night for charging.
In preliminary tests, the intraoral device exhibited an increased signal-to-noise ratio, even when a smaller magnet was placed on the tongue. That improved sensitivity could allow additional commands to be programmed into the system. The existing Tongue Drive System that uses a headset interprets commands from seven different tongue movements.
The ability to train the system with additional commands - as many commands as an individual can comfortably remember - and having all of the commands available to the user at the same time are significant advantages over the common sip-n-puff device that acts as a simple switch controlled by sucking or blowing through a straw.
The researchers plan to begin testing the usability of the intraoral Tongue Drive System by non-disabled individuals soon and then move on to clinical trials to test its usability by people with high-level spinal cord injuries.
In recent months, Ghovanloo and his team have recruited 11 individuals with high-level spinal cord injuries to test the headset version of the system at the Atlanta-based Shepherd Center and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
Trial participants received a clinical tongue piercing and tongue stud that contained a tiny magnet embedded in the upper ball. They repeated two test sessions per week during a six-week period that assessed their ability to use the Tongue Drive System to operate a computer and navigate an electric wheelchair through an obstacle course.
"During the trials, users have been able to learn to use the system, move the computer cursor quicker and with more accuracy, and maneuver through the obstacle course faster and with fewer collisions," said Ghovanloo. "We expect even better results in the future when trial participants begin to use the intraoral Tongue Drive System daily."
Georgia Tech graduate students Abner Ayala-Acevedo, Xueliang Huo, Jeonghee Kim, Hague Park, and Xueli Xiao, and former postdoctoral fellow Benoit Gosselin also contributed to this work.
Smart Mouthware: Control Phone or Computer Using Tongue - Smart Mouthware Computer Mouse is a touchpad built into an orthodontic retainer that allows users to move the cursor by moving their tongue across the roof of the mouth.
This quality-reviewed article relating to our Assistive Technology section was selected for publishing by the editors of Disabled World due to its likely interest to our disability community readers. Though the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article "Tongue Drive Wireless Device Operates Computers and Wheelchairs" was originally written by Georgia Institute of Technology, and published by Disabled-World.com on 2012-02-20 (Updated: 2022-06-21). Should you require further information or clarification, Georgia Institute of Technology can be contacted at gatech.edu. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
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Cite This Page (APA): Georgia Institute of Technology. (2012, February 20). Tongue Drive Wireless Device Operates Computers and Wheelchairs. Disabled World. Retrieved September 22, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/assistivedevices/tongue-drive.php
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