HotHardware For The Disabled

Engineers Ravi Vaidyanthan and Lalit Gupta of Southern Illinois University have determined a way to measure and utilize the minute changes in inner ear pressure, caused when a person moves their tongue inside their mouth, to operate equipment like a wheelchair.  It's bound to be a boon to the severely disabled, but eventually might find a use for others that have to operate any device while keeping their hands free.

Think-a-move has refined its wheelchair control system to cope with swallows and coughs, although users must train it to recognise their tongue movements the first time they use it. The company's wheelchair will be primarily aimed at quadriplegics who must currently use steering devices that go inside the mouth and are operated by sucking and blowing, or controlled by movement of the tongue.

"This system avoids the hygiene and irritation problems they cause, and also keeps the mouth free for talking," Vaidyanathan says.

But Vaidyanathan thinks his invention could have other uses. "I am hoping that this idea can reach everyone," he says. The device could keep a user's hands free, so it might be useful for fire fighters or soldiers. (or gamers...)

Nifty. No peanut butter for lunch is a small price to pay.