Ah, those weird, wonderful researchers and their strange studies. At Colorado State University, the latest “Man, that sounds crazy” idea is a new way for the deaf to hear. Not via implants (which do exist and are very costly), but via, get this, a mouth retainer.
What happens is that tongues will be used to read electrical impulses sent to a device placed next to the tongue. In the normal process of hearing, nerve cells in the ear are stimulated. The CSU device works by stimulating nerve cells in the tongue.
Why create something that sounds so outlandish? Well, cochlear implants while providing direct access to the auditory nerve also can cost up to US$100,000 and need to be surgically attached. With a mouth retainer, users could easily remove and reuse the device for a much cheaper price.
At the moment, said retainer has about 20 electrodes, each capable of pulsing 30 to 100 times per second.
So when do we see working models? CSU plans to test the device publicly by this year.
[Source: Fast Company]