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News Release 08-122

Tongue Drive Technology

Using only tongue motions, individuals with paralyzed limbs may be able to use new system to take control of technology

Photo of Maysam Ghovanloo (left) pointing to a small magnet attached to tongue of graduate student.

Maysam Ghovanloo (left) points to a small magnet attached to graduate student Xueliang Huo's tongue.


July 21, 2008

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Researchers have developed an experimental tongue-based system that may allow individuals with debilitating disabilities to control wheelchairs, computers and other devices with relative ease and no sophistication.

Because the tongue is directly connected to the brain via cranial nerves, it usually remains mobile when other body parts lose function to disease or accidents. That mobility underlies the new system, which may one day provide greater flexibility and simplicity to individuals who would otherwise use sip-and-puff controls or brain implants.

Electrical engineer Maysam Ghovanloo developed the Tongue Drive system in collaboration with graduate student Xueliang Huo and presented the findings June 29 at the 2008 Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

"Tongue Drive is inherently wireless and touch-free because it relies on a tiny magnetic tracer attached to the tongue with no power consumption," said Ghovanloo. "Tongue movements are also fast, accurate and do not require much thinking, concentration or effort."

Developed with funding from the National Science Foundation and additional support from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the technology is already showing speed and flexibility that rivals or surpasses other technologies.

For further details regarding the Tongue Drive, see the Georgia Tech press release at: http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/newsrelease/tongue-drive.htm.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Joshua A. Chamot, NSF, (703) 292-7730, email: jchamot@nsf.gov
Abby Vogel, Georgia Institute of Technology, (404) 385-3364, email: avogel@gatech.edu

Program Contacts
Ephraim P. Glinert, NSF, (703) 292-8930, email: eglinert@nsf.gov

Principal Investigators
Maysam Ghovanloo, Georgia Institute of Technology, (404) 385-7048, email: mgh@gatech.edu

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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