[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers
 

[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers

as part of her master’s thesis in integrated design, dorothee clasen has created an intra-oral wearable that allows a tongue-based interaction between human and machine. when [in]brace is placed inside the mouth, users can move a small magnetic element back and forward with their tongue to generate an input. the wifi module behind the user’s ear then transfers the given input to other connected devices, such as IoT devices, computers or game consoles.

[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers designboom

all images courtesy of dorothee clasen

 

 

at the beginning of the project, dorothee clasen looked at the status quo of haptic interfaces and how humans interact through touch with objects. as many interfaces use hands or fingertips, she decided to focused on another body part – the mouth. driven by curiosity and the desire to find novel principles for a tongue-computer interface, clasen built many different prototypes to physically explore her ideas, working with different materials, actuators and sensors. 

[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers designboom

 

 

the final prototype is based on an electro-magnetic principle to ensure a tangible, fluent and reliable interaction. the embedded reed sensors detect the location of the magnetic sphere-element, which the user’s tongue can push back and forward. the location and distance between the sensors has to be adjusted to the user’s specific tongue-requirements. the device is therefore designed with an alternated retainer architecture at the palate area for implementing the sensors. they are bonded in position with silicone to ensure non-permanent positioning and additionally for sanitary reasons.

 

 

for experiencing and testing the final prototype, a game play situation was created. after building a working prototype for herself and her supervising professor, dr. lasse scherffig, clasen set up the game ‘tong’. based on one of the most iconic arcade games in history, it requires the user to give a tongue based input instead of using their hands.

[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers designboom

 

 

two individual devices were manufactured to explore the game play. their design had to be adjusted to each of the user’s physiological attributes, such as a comfortable and reachable position for the sensors at the palate. finding the best distance between the two sensors was another important interaction aspect, as the needed tongue pressure and time to trigger the different sensor should feel fluent, responsive and corresponding to the movement of the in game paddle movement. playing tong required the user to develop a certain tongue-eye coordination. while the first game play was a bit bumpy, the user quickly improved their skills and enjoyed the game. 

[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers designboom

 

 

thinking about possible applications and finding suitable user scenarios is a key aspect of this work. reducing the size of the device, implementing the wifi module and battery into the retainer and embedding an actuator to enable a haptic feedback by the device will be the next steps, as well as partnering up with other disciplines to test the device on a more focused target group.

[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers designboom

 

 

for future applications, clasen proposes that [in]brace could be used in physiotherapy to playfully motivate patients to re-train their tongue movement. it could also be used during specific task forces, where the user’s eyes, feet and hands are already occupied by other performance tasks. a pianist might flip his digital note sheets with his tongue while playing, or a skier could play music from their smartphone with their tongue while skiing.

[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers designboom

 

 

the most promising application lies in the area of inclusion and universal product design. thinking about common or commercial interfaces, the majority is designed for a hand or finger driven interaction, thereby excluding users with a lack of fine motor skills in their hands or fingers to engage with those devices. as an alternative, [in]brace could enable users to connect and interact with their digital environment through their tongue.

[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers designboom

[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers designboom

[in]brace is a wearable device that uses tongue movement to interact with computers designboom

 

 

project info:

 

project name: [in]brace – a tongue computer interface

design: dorothee clasen

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lynne myers | designboom

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