Researchers from Georgia Tech have published a new study in which a wheelchair using a tongue controlled navigation system (see flashbacks below for previous coverage) has provided improved performance compared to conventional sip and puff navigation systems that are probably the most common interfaces among severely disabled for controlling wheelchairs. In the Georgia Tech study, paralyzed individuals accessed computers and transmitted commands to their wheelchairs using a wireless and wearable Tongue Drive System at faster speeds than conventional wheelchair controlling methods.
The position of the user’s tongue is relayed to the Tongue Drive System similar to a joystick, but with the help of a magnetic tongue stud piercing. A magnet in the tongue stud allows a head worn sensor to detect its location, interpreting it as one of six commands that the wheelchair can follow.
The researchers published results showing that 11 patients with tetraplegia using the Tongue Drive System were able to maneuver wheelchairs three times faster than with conventional sip-and-puff systems, without compromising accuracy. More than half of the patients in the study had years of routine experience with sip-and-puff navigation technologies but still preferred the Tongue Drive System after using it for the first time.
Flashbacks: New Tongue Drive System Uses Dental Retainer to Operate Wheelchair; Tongue Controller Looks Promising For Paralyzed; Tongue Controller Promises Better Device Interaction for Severely Disabled;
Press release: Clinical Trial Shows Tongue-Controlled Wheelchair Outperforms Popular Wheelchair Navigation System