Scientists at Wicab Inc. have filed a patent application on an invention they think will help those suffering from brain damage to return to many of their previous activities such as walking or riding a bike. Using electrical pulses, this device will stimulate the tongue, which they say is helpful in re-training the brain:
A false palate with a square grid of 160 gold-plated electrodes is placed on the tongue and wirelessly connected to the output of a motion sensor and camera fitted on the patient's head. The sensors deliver a coarse image of the scene ahead to the grid, which the tongue's nerve cells send to the brain.
Wicab says that with less than an hour's training, the brain learns to correlate the input from the tongue with whatever other sensory signals it is getting from the eyes, inner ear and other parts of the body. As patients recover their balance they are weaned off the tongue-based assistance.
Wicab claims this same technology can be used to help blind people create a rough image of the world around them and that it can also help divers and those in the military with night vision.