Home / Spring 2015 / 2015-02-26 / Daily Strange: New device may give deaf people the opportunity to “hear” through their tongues
Photo credit: Colorado State University

Daily Strange: New device may give deaf people the opportunity to “hear” through their tongues

Written by Ivey Ingalls-Rubin, Staff Writer

A new device may give deaf people the opportunity to “hear” through their tongues.

Cochlear implants have altered the lives of many people around the planet. Since their introduction, the deaf or severely hard of hearing have been capable of regaining one of their senses back, the sense of sound. Though these implants have caused quite the transformation, they also have their drawbacks. For instance, the devices can only be implanted through surgery and they aren’t suitable for all forms of hearing loss—not to mention they can cost up to $100,000.

Thanks to scientists at Colorado State University, a brilliant new advancement may be on the horizon. Their new creation will allow the users to “hear” with their tongue through vibrations.

The researcher’s development is a flat shaped neuro-stimulator with a mass of electrodes in a grid located at one end. It is wirelessly connected through Bluetooth to an earpiece that captures sound.
In turn, the audio signals are processed and converted into electrical pulses that are delivered through the stimulator to the user. The user then merely applies pressure with their tongue on the mouthpiece and feels the vibration. The idea is that this vibration, or rather—sound interpreted another way—can be translated by the brain.

Though the system doesn’t technically restore hearing, it does convert sound into very distinctive patterns. The user could learn these various vibrations/patterns and build an alphabet with them—much like how an individual would learn sign language.

Not only does this device not require surgery, it would also be much cheaper to the consumer than cochlear implants.

For more information on this hearing device please visit:
Why deaf people could soon hear through their tongues.

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