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How Deaf People Can Hear Through Their Tongues Now

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student tongue mapping

Since their introduction, cochlear implants have transformed the lives of many people across the world, allowing deaf or severely hard-of-hearing individuals to regain their sense of sound. Unfortunately, the devices also have their drawbacks; they have to be surgically implanted, aren’t suitable for all forms of hearing loss, and can cost a whopping $100,000.

But now, an alternative could well be on the horizon, as scientists from Colorado State University (CSU) have come up with a novel way to achieve the same outcome: a device that allows users to “hear” with their tongues. The system doesn’t restore hearing, but rather it converts sounds into distinct patterns of vibration that can be felt by the tongue, and thus helps the user to interpret sensations as sounds or words. Not only would this technology be significantly cheaper than cochlear implants, but it wouldn’t require surgery either.

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