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BrainPort V100: Tongue Sight Device Receives FDA Approval

BrainPort V100

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved marketing of a new tongue sight device by Wisconsin-based Wicab Inc., the BrainPort V100.

The new battery-powered device is designed to help blind people orient themselves by processing visual images through their tongues or in a sense, a device which allows the blind to see through their tongues.

Wicab’s BrainPort V100 includes a pair of glasses mounted with a small video camera and a lollipop-like mouthpiece with 400 electrodes which the user presses against their tongue in order to convert the images gathered by the camera into electrical signals which induce a vibration or tingling sensation which The Washington Post referred to in a report as reminiscent of “Pop Rocks” candy or champagne.

With a bit of training and experience, users of the device can learn to interpret these signals in order to determine the size, shape and locations of objects.

The FDA’s deputy director for science and chief scientist at the administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, William Maisel, M.D., was quoted in an FDA news release as having said that medical device innovations such as the BrainPort V100 “have the potential to help millions of people” and that it’s “important we continue advancing device technology to help blind Americans live better, ore independent lives.”

Medical device innovations like this have the potential to help millions of people (…) It is important we continue advancing device technology to help blind Americans live better, more independent lives.

In studies conducted, 69 percent of the 74 subjects who completed one-year of training with the new tongue sight device successfully completed the object recognition test.

While no serious device-related adverse events were reported, some patients reported burning, stinging or a metallic taste associated with the lollypop-esque intra-oral device which users place in their mouth.

In other news, a study published back in April found that a geomagnetic brain device lets blind rats navigate “like they can see.”

What are your thoughts on Wicab’s new tongue sight device for the blind?

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