Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Who needs eyes when you have a tongue?

I remember reading about "hacking" your senses a little while back, and an engineer fan of the bayblab sent us this wicked article in Wired illustrating where the field has progressed since. The idea is that the brain is so plastic that it can adapt to process information, no matter where the signal is originating. Basically the brain is very good at processing signals. At first people experimented by implanting strong magnets under their skin and being able to "feel" magnetic lines to determine their orientation. Then someone had the clever idea of using the tongue for sensory input since it has dense nerve inputs to provide a "tactile display". By placing an electrical array on the tongue and relaying signals about your orientation it permitted its wearer to "see" in situations where visual cues are poor such as flying an airplane or diving. Interestingly it has found its way into medical use and is entering clinical trials : "The researchers started testing the device on people with damaged inner ears. Not only did it restore their balance (presumably by giving them a data feed that was cleaner than the one coming from their semi circular canals) but the effects lasted even after they'd removed the mouthpiece — sometimes for hours or days."
Obviously this would be great for blind people too. And I can only speculate about the pleasures of added tactile senses when combined with regular vision. You can read more about this sort of stuff on the author's blog...Also check out this guy who wants to hack your memory!!!


Dominic said...

I am amazed....your last blog posting is about senses. My last blog posting is about senses....I am repeating myself but great minds really do think alike!