When Erik Weihenmayer started climbing mountains, he made up his own method. Blind since childhood, he would pat the rock face with his hands or tap it with an ice axe while following the sound of a small bell worn by a guide. He used this technique to summit Mount Everest, as well as the tallest peaks on all the other six continents.
Then, 10 years ago, Weihenmayer began using the BrainPort, The New Yorker magazine reports. The device enables him to “see” the rock face with his tongue.
The BrainPort has a band on his brow supporting a tiny video camera. The camera is connected by a cable to a small, rectangular plastic lollipop that he holds in his mouth. The camera feed is transformed into a grid of gray-scale pixels and transmitted to his tongue in the form of tiny electrodes on the lollipop. The result, he says, is “pictures being painted with tiny bubbles.”
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