More than 1 in 20 Americans have a disability that prevents them from effectively using their hands, eyes, or ears. Available assistive technology does not effectively solve the needs of many people with disabilities. Sapien LLC’s patented technology uses nerve endings in the tongue to send audio and visual information to the brain, and allows users to operate computers and mobile devices with their tongue.
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Non reparative solutions to damaged or impaired sensory systems have proven highly
effective in many applications but are generally underutilized. For auditory disorders, traditional
reparative solutions such as hearing aids and implant technology are limited in their ability to
treat neurological causes of hearing loss. A method to provide auditory information to a user via
the lingual nerve is proposed.
Malfunctioning sensory systems can severely impact quality of life and repair is not always possible. One solution, called sensory substitution, is to use another sensory system to bring lost information to the brain. This approach often involves the use of bioengineered devices that electrically stimulate somatosensory fibers. Interestingly, the tongue is an ideal location for electrotactile stimulation due to its dense innervation, moisture, and protected environment. Success with transmitting visual and vestibular information through the tongue indicates promise for future applications. However, sensitivity and discrimination ability varies between individuals and across the tongue surface complicating efforts to produce reliable and consistent sensations.
Sensory substitution – or the practice of mapping information from one sensory modality to
another – has been shown to be a viable technique for non-invasive sensory replacement and
augmentation. With the rise in popularity, ubiquity, and capability of mobile devices and wearable
electronics, sensory substitution research has seen a resurgence in recent years. Due to the standard
features of mobile/wearable electronics such as Bluetooth, multicore processing, and audio recording,
these devices can be used to drive sensory substitution systems
The Cthulhu Shield is an open-source sensory-substitution and sensory-augmentation development kit. Designed for researchers, students, and hobbyists, the Cthulhu Shield allows users to write Arduino sketches to control patterns of electrical stimulus on the tongue. Connect to a smartphone or computer to feel live sound, and video on your tongue. Attach external sensors to give yourself extra-human sensory capability via the nerves in your tongue! Demonstrations and example code can be found here https://github.com/SapienLLCdev/Cthulhu.