A new technology is being developed in order to provide the physically challenged people with a new, revolutionary wheelchair that could be moved about with a mere movement of the tongue. The wheelchair would run on electric power and all its functions could be effectively controlled by the disabled persons with eight different flicks of the tongue. The wheelchair would have a tiny microphone in the ear, which would be able to detect each of the eight tongue movements. These movements would then be transformed into commands by a computer, and the wheelchair could be started, stopped or turned accordingly.
A large number of severely disabled people are likely to benefit from this unique and highly useful wheelchair. People affected by strokes or spinal injuries, who are only able to move their tongues, would also be able to move about in this wheelchair with ease.
According to research findings, there are four most effective tongue movements: touching the lower left, centre and right sides of the mouth respectively, in addition to licking the top palate with an upward flick. Four extra commands can also be generated (in order to keep the operations of this wheelchair simple) by performing each of the four basic tongue movements twice in quick succession.
As any tongue movement is made, air-pressure changes, and vibrations are generated. The wheelchair will be designed in such a way that the earpiece would be able to sense different commands by detecting these vibrations. According to Dr.Ravi Vaidyanathan, leader of the project at University of Bristol, the users of this wheelchair would also be able to customize it, so that they could, in fact, choose which control is to be activated by which of the tongue movements.