Browse Prior Art Database

Oral Transducer-Controller And Variations for Computer Control

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000100742D
Original Publication Date: 1990-May-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-16
Document File: 3 page(s) / 127K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

McLean, JG: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

This article describes a system which provides control of a computer or other device by means of tongue-blocking and air pressure.

This text was extracted from an ASCII text file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 51% of the total text.

Oral Transducer-Controller And Variations for Computer Control

       This article describes a system which provides control of
a computer or other device by means of tongue-blocking and air
pressure.

      Quadriplegics and other severely disabled individuals can face
extreme hurdles in everyday life.  Computers have proven useful in
providing improvements in ease of mobility, communication, and self-
sufficiency to such individuals. The types of control mechanisms
available for these applications have, however, been limited.

      Most devices developed for use by persons with paralysis from
the neck down are variations on a pointing theme in which the user
signals (using methods including facial muscle twitches, eye
movement, and mouthsticks) during the presentation of a rotating list
of options.  By nesting such lists, many options can be available.
These methods can be time-consuming in their use.

      The system disclosed herein provides an added dimension of
control by allowing the operator to make one of several choices at
once, thus greatly reducing the time required for use, and the
frustration associated with cruder control methods.

      Fig. 1 is a block diagram of the system of this disclosure.  In
operation, the user grips a mouthpiece (resembling those used for
sports) between the teeth.  On the mouthpiece are several holes which
are accessible to the tongue of the user.  By blocking one or more of
these holes with the tongue, and then either inhaling or exhaling
gently, the user can select one of several options.  The method of
use is not unlike the playing of a harmonica, where the tongue blocks
those holes which would not produce the desired notes.  Each hole is
connected to a pressure transducer, which senses the resulting
changes in pressure and converts them to electronic signals which may
then be interpreted by a computer.  Additionally, the user can
momentarily increase jaw pressure by biting down, and activate a
piezoelectric pressure transducer (not shown) in the mouthpiece body.
 This provides a momentary signal useful for action selection.  The
combination of continuous and momentary controls adds to the
flexibility and usefulness of the device.

      This described embodiment also includes, as an option, external
vacuum and pressure sources to the holes.  This removes the need for
the user to inhale and exhale to operate the device.  To initiate an
action, the user simply blocks the appropriate holes and bites down.
Blocking the hole causes the pressure reaching the sensor to change.
This would result in less user fatigue.  The pump unit used to
provide the pressure differentials is also used to suction away
excess saliva from the unit, also aiding ease of use.  The mouthpiece
may be customized as are those used for sports for increased comfort
in use.

      The level of control provided by this device is much greater
than on previous devices of this kind.  This...