(KUSA) – In a lab at Colorado State University, scientists are working on something extraordinary: a state-of-the-art device that would allow the hearing impaired to process sound through their tongues.
“We’re taking and substituting touch on the tongue with signals that the brain could use and substitute for hearing,” professor John Williams said.
Williams and his team hope that in time the small device can become a cheaper, more easily accessible version of a cochlear implant.
“Cochlear implants can be upwards of $40,000, and including training can be more expensive than that,” Williams said. “What we’re shooting for is something in the few thousands of dollars that could work as good or even better”
When a patient presses their tongue against a sensor-packed mouthpiece, they feel a distinct pattern of electric impulses.
They won’t actually be able to hear actual sound but the hope is with training the brain will learn to process the pulse patterns as words.
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