Desultory Items: Brain Port and Rugby

Posted By on April 25, 2006

Dr Anil RajTwo totally different topics … “Brain Port” as described at MSNBC and a personal video. (humor me)

First, a concept and device that was introduced 30 years ago by Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita at the University of Wisconsin; it is know as “Brain Port.” Originally it was a video camera that routed images through electrodes to nerves on a persons lower back. Through experimentation, he discovered that the tongue was an even better receptor.

Dr. Anil Raj (photo) and his team has move forward with this concept and is using 144 microelectrodes to transmit information through the tongue. The brain which can learn to process the signal can quickly help people make sensory decisions their own 6 senses cannot process. The military oriented research is experimenting with soldiers and Navy Seal divers. In the underwater use, the tongue “Brain Port” is used to transmit sonar and directional information to the diver.

In the article, the device was tested with blind people, who “found doorways, noticed people walking in front of them and caught balls.” Although much of the research is being design around the military potential, a commercially produced device could be available soon. The article states that the “Brain Port” could be helpful for those whose vestibular systems of the inner ear are damaged which causes balance problems. On a personal note, this interests me since I spend several years suffering from the effects of Menieres disease and know what loss of balance is all about.

EDIT: Spotted an Engadget post on this … a great site BTW.

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For the personal post, I filmed a little of my son’s Rugby match this past weekend. It was really the first sunny and warm day for a match as the half dozen others took place in the rain or at least damp weather. I don’t know why, but it seems that my son is attracted to sports that I know little about … why couldn’t it be football or baseball?

Nevertheless, several matches into the season I’m beginning to understand the game and am happy to see Taylor enjoying the camradery and physical challenges associated with this rough game. His team has suffered several major injuries (three broken legs) which to Taylor’s positive way of looking at things has moved him to a starter position. (1st year sophomores generally learn the game and are substituted from the sidelines) Another interesting … and embarrassing part about posting this short 4 minute video clip is that this is my wife’s first match … and she knows even less about Rugby that me! (in other words, ignore my comments on the video of me trying to explain the game to her)


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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