Use of Tongue Movements as a Substitute for Arm and Hand Functions in People with Severe Disabilities

Xueliang Huo, M.S., Jia Wang, B.S., and Maysam Ghovanloo, Ph.D.
NC Bionics Lab, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC


We have developed a tongue operated assistive technology, called “Tongue Drive”, to provide people with severe disabilities with flexible and effective computer access and environment control. A small permanent magnet secured on the tongue using a tongue clip, tissue adhesive, or tongue piercing is utilized as a marker to track tongue movements. The magnetic field variations due to tongue movements are detected by an array of magnetic sensors mounted on a headset outside the mouth or an orthodontic brace inside. The sensor outputs are then processed and translated into different user control commands after being wirelessly transmitted to a portable computer (PC or PDA). These commands can be used to access a computer by substituting the mouse functions or can be customized to operate a powered wheelchair, a phone, or other equipments. For human trials, we have developed a prototype Tongue Drive system on a baseball helmet and successfully tested it.


environment control, magnetic sensor array, permanent magnetic marker, tongue computer interface, wireless assistive technologies


Maysam Ghovanloo, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Director
NC Bionics Lab, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, North Carolina State University
Address: 890 Oval Dr., Room 2110-EB2, Raleigh, NC 27695
Phone: (919) 513-1923
Fax: (919) 515-5523


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