A gadget claiming at having the ability to aid blind people “see” with their tongues, called the BrainPort V100, was approved by the US FDA on Thursday.
The Wisconsin-based Wicab is the developer of this device that translates visual info from a video camera into gentle electrical stimuli in the tongue. Users eventually are able to interpret the signals to “see” the location of the objects, their size, the speed and the direction they are moving.
“Medical device innovations like this have the potential to help millions of people,” William Maisel, the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health chief scientist said in a statement. “It is important we continue advancing device technology to help blind Americans live better, more independent lives.”
Tests resulted to a 69 % of 74 subjects being able to “see” objects thanks to this device, the researchers said. Although, some patients feel a “burning, stinging or metallic taste” when they placed part of the BrainPort V100 in their mouth, it was determined by the FDA that there were “no serious device-related adverse events.”
In 2013, Wicab was permitted to sell the BrainPort V100 in Europe after 15 years of research. Now, it can be sold in the United States, where 1.2 million people are blind, according to the National Institutes of Health.