News / Science & Technology

Tongue Controls Wheelchair for Quadriplegics

Tongue Controls Wheelchair for Quadriplegicsi
X
December 19, 2013 5:34 PM
People paralyzed from the neck down are bound to a wheelchair. One of the biggest problems for them is controlling its movements. Now, scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States have devised a system that allows quadriplegics to operate wheelchairs using their tongues. VOA's George Putic has the details.
George Putic
People paralyzed from the neck down are bound to a wheelchair. One of the biggest problems for them is controlling its movements. Now, scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States have devised a system that allows quadriplegics to operate wheelchairs using their tongues.

The new device is so easy to operate that it opens many other possibilities for quadriplegics.

A tiny magnet is attached to a patient’s tongue so that each movement changes the magnetic field around her head. Sensors located in the headset register the changes and transmit them to a smartphone, where an app translates them to commands for the wheelchair’s motors.

As the patient gently moves her tongue, the wheelchair starts rolling and changes direction, said the inventor of the tongue drive, Maysam Ghovanloo, associate professor of electrical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.

"The tongue not only has sensory inputs to the brain, but it also has a very good motor capability, so why not use the tongue as an output of the brain," said Ghovanloo.

Ghovanloo said his invention is more useful for quadriplegics than voice commands, because their voices may be very weak. Other systems, allowing control with electrical signals from the brain, are still in development and require intense concentration. Ghovanloo said his patients were able to master the tongue drive in a few hours. His team now is developing it for controlling almost anything.

"And the target device could be your wheelchair, could be your computer, could be your flat-screen TV, air conditioning system, you name it, because the rest of the technology is already in place," he said.

The Georgia Tech team also is trying to place the magnetic sensors into a dental retainer, getting rid of the headset.

Professor Ghovanloo said his device could be available for purchase within a few years.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid