Health

New Technology Allows Blind British Soldier to See with Tongue

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

When British soldier Lance Corporal Craig Lundberg was blinded by a grenade attack in Basra, Iraq in 2007, he thought he would never see again. But now he can, through technology that allows him to see with his tongue.

The procedure, which is being developed here in the United States, allows people to see shapes, letters and images. Right now the images are in black and white and aren't crystal clear. But perhaps some day the technology will advance to allow real sight.

Here's how it works: Many scientists theorized that it is the brain that interprets images. So it is the brain, and not the eyes, that sees. The human brain is seen as the most advanced computer on earth, so the brain's "central processing unit" can link and adapt to a man-made computer's central processing unit.

A small lollipop-type paddle is linked to two video cameras fitted to a pair of sunglasses. When the pad is placed on the person's tongue, images are relayed through a series of pulses the person feels. This is transmitted to the brain, which turns the images into black and white pixels, similar to the micro dots on a television.

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This is then interpreted by the person into 2 dimensional images. But before all of this can happen, the person requires intensive training to determine what he is seeing. 

Clinical trials are not yet fully underway, but it is likely to be put on the fast track by the Food and Drug Administration.