The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared for marketing an assistive device for the blind that translates digital information from a video camera mounted on a pair of glasses into gentle electrical stimulation patterns on the surface of the tongue, helping users to learn to interpret visual images of objects in their environment.

A non-surgical assistive device designed to augment rather than replace other assistive technologies such as a cane or guide dog, the BrainPort V100—developed by Wisconsin-based Wicab—is battery-powered and includes a small, flat intra-oral device containing 400 electrodes that the user holds against their tongue. Software converts the image captured by the video camera into electrical signals that are then sent to the intra-oral device and perceived as vibrations or tingling on the user’s tongue.

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