Seeing With Tongues

We use our eyes to see, so it seems logical to conjecture that if you didn’t have eyes, you couldn’t see. What I love about science is that these sorts of limiting beliefs routinely get blasted out of the water.

A fascinating series of experiments points out that we see with our brains, not our eyes. Consequently, you can substitute a patch of skin, or, even better, the tongue, for eyes when it comes to “seeing.” With a day of training, the people in these trials can see as well with their tongues as I can without my glasses. Which isn’t very well, but it’s a start.

(Hat tip to the amazing folks at SPECTRE who routinely send me the most interesting things I read.)


D. Johnson

That is the coolest story I have ever tasted.

Chriss

Am I reading correctly that the article you link to was published 6 years ago in 2001? If so, I wonder how far they've progressed with this experiment in 2007.

Dan

I remember reading about this in Wired several years ago. It's pretty fascinating, especially the parts about Heads-Up-Display potential for pilots or soldiers.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.04/esp_pr.html

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.12/start.html?pg=9

Arjun

Pretty amazing. This is one of those topics that make for amazing papers in science: it seems so unintuitive at first but makes so much sense after it's been explained.

spectre

thanks for the kind words.

this great video that PBS and WIRED produced is current
http://www.pbs.org/kcet/wiredscience/video/286-mixed_feelings.html

by the way

one does not need a gmail account to apply to join us
(though google might like you to think so)

just write to us at spectre.event.horizon.group@gmail.com
with your preferred email address

http://groups.google.com/group/spectre_event_horizon_group/browse_thread/thread/7b77df77c47a7d4f

Enough Wealth

An immediate military application comes to mind from the statement "So is bestowing people with brand new senses, such as the capability to use heat to see in the dark" -- I can just imagine future soldiers doing away with the cumbersome night vision goggles and having a tongue interfaced heat and low-light vision system instead. The benefits would be that it wouldn't interfere with their normal vision, the tongue isn't used for much else during combat, and a sudden flash that overwhelmed the "tongue-o-vision" wouldn't blind the soldier's normal vision so much.

Regards
http://enoughwealth.com

spayced

Fascinating science. I for one welcome our new cyborg overlords.

ashish

Thanks Steven,

Snakes use their tongues to "see". is there any connection with this experiment? there was no mention of snakes in the article.

how is the experiment doing in 2008?

liu jun

I am a chinese student .I have read your book .I think it is very good .Can i know more about you and your books? Wishes to hear from you!

Gene Shiau

Seeing with tongues may be old, but many people who work on it still treat it as a new technology. A group of engineering students at my school demonstrated a prototype that converts line arts drawn on computer screen into patterns for the tongue to "see." They claimed that the tongue has enough sensitivity to discern images drawn at much higher resolution than their prototype was producing. Given the fact that they had only one patch of electrode matrix shared among visitors (and disinfected between operations using rubbing alcohol), I was reluctant to experiment with it myself. Otherwise I would have liked to test their claim of tongue's image resolution.

D. Johnson

That is the coolest story I have ever tasted.

Chriss

Am I reading correctly that the article you link to was published 6 years ago in 2001? If so, I wonder how far they've progressed with this experiment in 2007.

Dan

I remember reading about this in Wired several years ago. It's pretty fascinating, especially the parts about Heads-Up-Display potential for pilots or soldiers.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.04/esp_pr.html

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.12/start.html?pg=9

Arjun

Pretty amazing. This is one of those topics that make for amazing papers in science: it seems so unintuitive at first but makes so much sense after it's been explained.

spectre

thanks for the kind words.

this great video that PBS and WIRED produced is current
http://www.pbs.org/kcet/wiredscience/video/286-mixed_feelings.html

by the way

one does not need a gmail account to apply to join us
(though google might like you to think so)

just write to us at spectre.event.horizon.group@gmail.com
with your preferred email address

http://groups.google.com/group/spectre_event_horizon_group/browse_thread/thread/7b77df77c47a7d4f

Enough Wealth

An immediate military application comes to mind from the statement "So is bestowing people with brand new senses, such as the capability to use heat to see in the dark" -- I can just imagine future soldiers doing away with the cumbersome night vision goggles and having a tongue interfaced heat and low-light vision system instead. The benefits would be that it wouldn't interfere with their normal vision, the tongue isn't used for much else during combat, and a sudden flash that overwhelmed the "tongue-o-vision" wouldn't blind the soldier's normal vision so much.

Regards
http://enoughwealth.com

spayced

Fascinating science. I for one welcome our new cyborg overlords.

ashish

Thanks Steven,

Snakes use their tongues to "see". is there any connection with this experiment? there was no mention of snakes in the article.

how is the experiment doing in 2008?

liu jun

I am a chinese student .I have read your book .I think it is very good .Can i know more about you and your books? Wishes to hear from you!

Gene Shiau

Seeing with tongues may be old, but many people who work on it still treat it as a new technology. A group of engineering students at my school demonstrated a prototype that converts line arts drawn on computer screen into patterns for the tongue to "see." They claimed that the tongue has enough sensitivity to discern images drawn at much higher resolution than their prototype was producing. Given the fact that they had only one patch of electrode matrix shared among visitors (and disinfected between operations using rubbing alcohol), I was reluctant to experiment with it myself. Otherwise I would have liked to test their claim of tongue's image resolution.