We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the BrainPort®?

John Lister
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

BrainPort® is the name of a technology for visually impaired people, developed by Wicab, Inc. It is also the name of a device that uses that technology. The device involves signals received by a camera being translated into electrical pulses which are sent to the tongue. The user's brain can then convert these into visual signals and "see" the information.

Originally the BrainPort® was developed to aid stroke victims. The idea was to use a sensor to detect head positioning, then send a signal to the tongue when the head was in the "correct" position. By aiming to move the head to keep the signal active, the patient could relearn the skills needed for balance.

Later the developers found the BrainPort® could be used for more complicated signals. This was based on the fact that the human brain is able to interpret signals from one sense as having a meaning more traditionally associated with another sense. One common example of this is with Braille, where information usually conveyed in visual form is received through touch.

This concept already had a medical use through cochlear implants. These convert sound into electrical signals which are transmitted through bone to the brain. The idea is to create the same vibrations in the bone as would be produced by sounds heard by a fully hearing person.

In principle, the BrainPort®'s operation is a simple idea: a signal applied to a particular part of the tongue corresponds to a particular piece of visual information about the three-dimensional positioning and size of an object. In practice, of course, this is extremely complicated, due to the sheer complexity and variety of visual information we "see." For this reason, the level of detail which a BrainPort® user can "see" is considerably limited compared with that of somebody with normal vision. Some users have experienced good results though, with some even able to read some examples of handwriting.

The tongue is used as a sensory point because it is much more sensitive than other areas of the body. This means the strength of the electrical signal does not need to be as high. The tongue also has the benefit of being coated in saliva, which contains electrolytes and can aid the flow of the electrical current.

The BrainPort® has sparked some philosophical debate about whether or not a person using it is experiencing sight. Some believe the term should only apply when the retina is stimulated, which doesn't happen with the device. Other argue that it does not matter how visual information gets to the brain as long as it can use it.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
John Lister
By John Lister
John Lister, an experienced freelance writer, excels in crafting compelling copy, web content, articles, and more. With a relevant degree, John brings a keen eye for detail, a strong understanding of content strategy, and an ability to adapt to different writing styles and formats to ensure that his work meets the highest standards.
Discussion Comments
John Lister
John Lister
John Lister, an experienced freelance writer, excels in crafting compelling copy, web content, articles, and more. With...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.