Tactile vision substitution via the tongue (Tongue TVS)

This project demonstrated the feasibility of tactile vision substitution on the tongue. Experimental results are published.

Project Summary

This project developed a first prototype tactile vision system. A small hand- or head-controlled camera records the visual image, which is presented to the user's tongue. (Graphic variant of: Al Granberg, New York Times) 

Project Publications

  1. E. Sampaio, S. Maris and P. Bach-y-Rita, Brain plasticity: "visual" acuity of blind persons via the tongue, Brain Research, vol. 908, pp. 204-207, 2001.
  2. R. Kupers and M. Ptito, "Seeing" through the tongue: cross-modal plasticity in the congenitally blind, International Congress Series, vol. 1270, pp. 79-84, 2004.
  3. H. Segond, D. Weiss and E. Sampaio, Human spatial navigation in a visuo-tactile sensory substitution system, Peception, vol. 34, pp. 1231-1249, 2005.
  4. M. Ptito, S. Moesgaard, A. Gjedde and R. Kupers, Cross-modal plasticity revealed by electrotactile stimulation of the tongue in the congenitally blind, Brain, vol. 128, pp. 606-614, 2005.


This technology is being commercialized as the BrainPort® Vision Device by Wicab, Inc., a high-tech spin-off from TCNL research. Wicab's BrainPort® V100 vision substitution device received US FDA approval on June 18, 2015. 

See Wicab Press Release

See FDA News Release

Selected Publicity

Technology developed by Wisconsin allows the blind to see through the tongue: BTN LiveBIG, Big Ten Network, 7/31/2016. 

Seeing with your tongue, New Yorker, 5/15/2017. 

See all publicity

Our Research

Founded in 1992, the Tactile Com­mu­nication & Neurorehabilitation Laboratory (TCNL) is located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

We are a research center that uses the experience of many different areas of science to study the theory and application of applied neuro­plasticity, the brain’s ability to re­or­ganize in response to new informa­tion, needs, and pathways.

Our research is aimed at developing solutions for sensory and motor disorder rehabilitation.