For individuals living with paralysis, everyday activities can be a challenge. Scientists across the globe are constantly innovating to improve the quality of life for those with impaired mobility, like this implant that can turn people’s brain signals into words we’ve previously reported on.
The newest invention comes out of Georgia Tech, MagTrack. This wireless device gives the user complex control over their smartphones and laptops, like scrolling, mouse navigation, and dragging and dropping. It also allows users to operate their wheelchairs in a seamless manner.
The research, published in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, was carried out on people living with tetraplegia, a form of paralysis due to spinal cord injury which impacts arms, hands, trunk, legs, and pelvic organs. MagTrack aims to improve these individuals’ quality of life.
This first of its kind innovation is controlled through the user’s tongue and head movements through the Head-Tongue Controller (HTC). The equipment comes in the form of eyewear and a tiny tracker noninvasively glued to the tongue. Machine learning models also help train the technology to improve the accuracy of the command the individual is trying to carry out.
“MagTrack is an innovative assistive technology aimed for those living with physical paralysis to have access to more complex human-machine interactions, which will facilitate the control of more devices in their everyday life that they cannot easily use otherwise,” said Nordine Sebkhi, co-creator of MagTrack.
“The development of our wearable alternative controller eliminates the need for having multiple assistive technologies, replacing them with a single multimodal and integrated system.”
The team hopes to keep improving their product, expanding the device’s capabilities and the number of facial gestures it can recognize. The team hopes this technology will soon become more widespread, with home environment tests being carried out within the next year.
MagTrack also has a wide-ranging number of applications outside this incredible use, including a tracking system for physical rehabilitation, motor speech disorders, and even virtual reality applications.
Source study: IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering – Nordine Sebkhi et al, Evaluation of a Head-Tongue Controller for Power Wheelchair Driving By People With Quadriplegia