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Tongue Drive system lets persons with disabilities operate powered wheelchairs, computers
Date:6/29/2008

d each of the six designated tongue movements 10 times.

During the testing session, the user moved his or her tongue to one of the predefined command positions and the mouse pointer started moving in the selected direction. To move the cursor faster, users could hold their tongue in the position of the issued command to gradually accelerate the pointer until it reached a maximum velocity.

Results of the computer access test by novice users with the current Tongue Drive prototype showed a response time of less than one second with almost 100 percent accuracy for the six individual commands. This is equivalent to an information transfer rate of approximately 150 bits per minute, which is much faster than the bandwidth of most brain-computer interfaces, according to Ghovanloo.

The researchers have also tested the ability of twelve able-bodied individuals to operate an electric-powered wheelchair with the Tongue Drive system. The next step is to test and assess the usability and acceptability of the system by people with severe disabilities, said Ghovanloo. He is teaming with the Shepherd Center, an Atlanta-based catastrophic care hospital, and the Georgia Tech Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access, to conduct those trials.

The research team has also begun to develop software to connect the Tongue Drive system to a wide variety of readily available communication tools such as text generators, speech synthesizers and readers. In addition, the researchers plan to add control commands, such as switching the system into standby mode to permit the user to eat, sleep or engage in a conversation while extending battery life.

"We hope this technology will reduce the need of individuals with severe disabilities to receive continuous assistance from family members or caregivers, thus significantly reducing healthcare and assistance costs," noted Ghovanloo. "This system may also make it easier for them to work and com
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Contact: Abby Vogel
avogel@gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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