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A Merseyside soldier blinded by a grenade in Iraq has said his life has been turned around by technology that allows him to "see" with his tongue.

L/Cpl Craig Lundberg, 24, from Walton, Merseyside, can read words, identify shapes and walk unaided using the BrainPort device.

The machine converts visual images into a series of electrical pulses which are sent to his tongue.

The soldier said the device gives off "a pins and needles sensation".

L/Cpl Lundberg lost his sight while serving with the King's Regiment after being hit by a rocket propelled grenade in 2007.

'Popping candy'

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) selected him to trial the pioneering device which is comprised of a tiny video camera attached to a pair of sunglasses linked to a plastic "lolly pop" which the user places on their tongue to read the electrical pulses.

L/Cpl Lundberg said it felt like "licking a nine volt battery or like popping candy".

"You get lines and shapes of things, it sees in black and white so you get a two dimensional image on your tongue, it's a bit like a pins and needles sensation," he said.

"It's only a prototype, but the potential to change my life is massive, it's got a lot of potential to advance things for blind people.

"One of the things it has enabled me to do is pick up objects straight away, I can reach out and pick them up when before I would be fumbling around to feel for them."

L/Cpl Lundberg said he would still be keeping his guide dog Hugo.

The MoD said it expected to pay about £18,000 for the device and training to enable the trial to take place.

Users cannot speak or eat while using the BrainPort so designers are hoping to create a smaller device that could be permanently fixed behind the teeth or to the roof of the mouth enabling more natural use.
watch the video
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/e...de/8568485.stm
 
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