BrainPort Assists the Blind using Gentle Electrodes Connected to the Tongue

BrainPort specifically works best for the blind people or people who have no better than light perception. Visual information is collected from a head mounted camera; it’s user-adjustable and typically attached to a pair of sunglasses. After the visual information is collected, it travels to the base unit and is distributed to the tongue. The base unit translates the visual information and creates a stimulation pattern that the tongue can “read.” The tactile image is presented by the amount of stimulation on the tongue and the pattern of stimulation. White pixels are represented by strong stimulation, black pixels by no stimulation and gray pixels by medium stimulation.

Users report that the stimulation is about postage stamp sized and feels like champagne bubbles or the candy, Pop Rocks. The user can adjust the strength of the stimulation to what is comfortable. The device is primarily used for identifying orientation, mobility, object identification and spot reading. With training, users may perceive shape, size, location and motion of objects in their environment. The BrainPort vision device is intended to work in conjunction, rather than replace other assistive technology such as a cane or guide dog.

The BrainPort does not stimulate the eye or Optic nerve so it has the potential to be used by people with a wide variety of visual impairments. Current research studies indicate that it takes the user between 2 and 10 hours to learn how to properly use the device.

BrainPort is developed by Wicab Inc. The organization is primarily focused on creating and testing the BrainPort device. Although the device is still in the trial phase, the BrainPort exhibits qualities of powerful assistive technology. The BrainPort® vision device is an Investigational Device and its use remains limited by U.S. Federal Law to investigational uses only.

THE BRAINPORT VISION DEVICE HAS NOT YET BEEN SUBMITTED TO THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA) FOR CLEARANCE OR APPROVAL AND IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR SALE.