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News From the Food and Drug Administration
August 4, 2015

“Lollipop” Provides Vision Assist

JAMA. 2015;314(5):443. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.9098

With a video camera mounted on sunglasses and a “lollipop” made of electrodes and placed on the tongue, a newly approved device helps people who are blind perceive objects and movement in their surrounding environment. The device is intended for use with other assistive devices such as a cane or guide dog (http://1.usa.gov/1GTcWy8).

The battery-powered BrainPort V100 uses software that converts images captured by the video camera into electrical signals that are sent via a flexible cable to the electrode array on the tongue. Device users feel strong stimulation on the tongue when the camera sends white pixels, no stimulation from black pixels, and medium levels from gray pixels. Stimulation feels similar to the sensation of drinking sparkling water, according to the manufacturer, Wicab, Inc, of Middleton, Wisconsin (http://bit.ly/1IijCXv).