1. Computing
Andrew Leibs

BrainPort Challenges the Boundaries Among the Senses

By December 6, 2012

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BrainPort V100 Vision Device

It sounds absurd: electrical impulses travel from the tongue to the brain along the optic nerves. You move your head; the camera processes new images; your mouth feels the shifting video paint new patterns.

It's not sight; it's not taste, but the tip of your tongue is suddenly counting three people standing before you.

With the BrainPort V100 -- a "vision enhancement device" still in prototype -- sight no longer looks the same. It blurs the boundaries between the senses and reminds us it's the brain, and not the eye, that truly sees.

The device converts video images into electrode patterns on an array affixed to the tongue. Users learn to translate this tactile data into the corresponding shapes and movement of objects in their environment.

It's impossible to say what this breakthrough constitutes: compensating for a deficit, leveraging an unused neural pathway, or the creation of a new type of sense.

"It's on the tip of my tongue" however, has a whole new meaning.

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