Tongue device helps blind soldier
Published 15/03/2010 | 14:26
A soldier blinded by a grenade in Iraq has described how his life has been transformed by ground-breaking technology that enables him to "see" with his tongue.
Lance Corporal Craig Lundberg, 24, from Walton, Liverpool, can read words, identify shapes and walk around unaided thanks to the BrainPort device, despite being totally blind.
The Liverpool fan, who plays blind football for England, lost his sight after being struck by a rocket propelled grenade while serving in Basra in 2007.
He was faced with the prospect of relying on a guide dog or cane for the rest of his life.
But he was chosen by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to be the first person to trial a pioneering device - the BrainPort, which could revolutionise treatment for the blind.
The BrainPort converts visual images into a series of electrical pulses which are sent to the tongue, the different strength of the tingles can be read or interpreted so the user can mentally visualise their surroundings and navigate around objects.
The device is comprised of a tiny video camera attached to a pair of sunglasses which are linked to a plastic "lolly pop" which the user places on their tongue to read the electrical pulses.
L/Cpl Lundberg explained: "It feels like licking a nine volt battery or like popping candy.
"The camera sends signals down onto the lolly pop and onto your tongue, you can then determine what they mean and transfer it to shapes.
"You get lines and shapes of things, it sees in black and white so you get a two dimensional image on your tongue, it's a bit like a pins and needles sensation."