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---- PROTOTYPE --------- PURPOSE: Engineers at Georgia's Institute of Technology have developed a prototype that allows individuals with severe disabilities to operate a wheelchair or computer by moving their tongue. The prototype requires the user to have a small magnet the size of a grain of rice be pierced into his or her tongue. A companion device embedded with magnetic sensors, such as an orthodontic brace or headset, can then trace the movement of the tongue and transmit those signals wirelessly to a nearby portable computer. Users can set six tongue motions, such as a right-click, and use their tongue like a joystick to direct movements of a cursor on a computer screen or power a wheelchair. Engineers hope to evolve the technology, called the Tongue Drive System, so that individuals could eventually use their teeth as a keyboard. The technology is still in a trial phase. Researchers at Georgia Tech chose to focus on the tongue, instead of the hands and feet, because the tongue's function is controlled by the brain through a cranial nerve that generally escapes damage in severe spinal cord injuries or neuromuscular diseases. AUTHOR: Stefanie Olsen. TITLE: Tech lets tongue drive the PC, wheelchair. WEBSITE: CNet News REF: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-10024983-76.html?tag=mncol.
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