Do you suffer from tinnitus? We were surprised to learn that 15-20% of people have this condition that amounts to constant ringing in the ears. Science doesn’t fully understand the ringing part, but one possible explanation is that the brain is compensating for the frequencies it can’t hear any more.
Then [Lim] and his team tested guinea pigs, searching here, there, and under the armpits for the best place to suppress tinnitus. As it turns out, the tongue is one of the best places when used along with a specific soundscape. So then they did a human trial with 326 people. Each person had a small paddle electrode on their tongue and headphones on their ears.
As the electrodes sparkled like Pop Rocks against their tongues, the trial participants listened to pure frequencies played over a background of sound resembling vaporwave music. The combination of the two overstimulates the brain, forcing it to suppress the tinnitus reaction. This discovery certainly seems like a game changer for tinnitus sufferers. If we had tinnitus, we would be first in line to try this out given the chance. Armed with the soundscape, we’re left to wonder how many 9V batteries we’d have to lick to approximate the paddle.
We just wrapped up the Human Computer Interface challenge in this year’s Hackaday Prize, and with that comes a bevy of interesting new designs for mice and keyboards that push the envelope of what you think should be possible, using components that seem improbable. One of the best examples of this is The Bit, a project from [oneohm]. It’s a computer mouse, that uses a tiny little trackpad in ways you never thought possible. It’s a mouse that fits on your tongue.
The idea behind The Bit was to create an input device for people with limited use of their extremities. It’s a bit like the Eyedriveomatic, the winner from the 2015 Hackaday Prize, but designed entirely to fit on the tip of your tongue.
The first experiments on a tongue-controlled mouse were done with an optical trackpad/navigation button found on Blackberry Phones. Like all mouse sensors these days, these modules are actually tiny, really crappy cameras. [oneohm] picked up a pair of these modules and found they had completely different internal tracking modules, so the experiment turned to a surface tracking module from PixArt Imaging that’s also used as a filament sensor in the Prusa 3D printer. This module was easily connected to a microcontroller, and with careful application of plastics, was imbedded in a pacifier. Yes, it tracks a tongue and turns that into cursor movements. It’s a tongue-tracking mouse, and it works.
This is an awesome project for the Hackaday Prize. Not only does it bring new tech to a human-computer interface, it’s doing it in a way that’s accessible to all.
Not satisfied with late 1950s concepts of Smell-O-Vision [Nimesha] has created something extraordinary: A digital taste sensor, capable of representing taste with a little bit of heat, electricity, and an Arduino
The device purportedly works by via thermal and electrical stimulation of the tongue using silver electrodes. According to this video, different tastes are created with different currents and temperatures. For example, a sour taste is produced on the electrodes by varying the current from 60uA to 180uA and increasing the temperature up to 30 degrees C. Mint is produced by simply decreasing the temperature from 22C to 19C.
The control electronics include an Arduino, a motor controller, and a heat sink attached to one of the silver electrodes. Communication is done through USB, and of coursethere’s a mobile app for it, more specifically a protocol called Taste Over IP. This allows anyone to send a taste to anyone with one of these devices.
Videos below, and before you laugh, we’d really like to try one of these out.
Researchers at Georgia Tech are working on a Tongue Drive System, which transforms the tongue into a tool that can manipulate computers and manage appliances and wheelchairs. This project has huge implications for the disabled, especially for those with few motor skills and limited movement. Many disabled Americans are paralyzed from the neck down, and this system could be a literal lifesaver, providing them with a method of communication and control over their own lives. Scientists have been attracted to the tongue’s potential for a long time. It provides several advantages over using other organs or appendages. It’s very sensitive, tactile, is not connected to the spinal cord, and does not usually end up being harmed in accidents. By placing a tiny magnet underneath the tongue, it’s transformed into a virtual keyboard. Sensors placed in the cheek track the magnet’s movement and processes the commands into directions for electronics, be it a wheelchair or a home appliance. We’re excited to see where this will go.