Evaluation of a smartphone platform as a wireless interface between tongue drive system and electric-powered wheelchairs

Jeonghee Kim*, Xueliang Huo, Julia Minocha, Jaimee Holbrook, Anne Laumann, Maysam Ghovanloo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Tongue drive system (TDS) is a new wireless assistive technology (AT) for the mobility impaired population. It provides users with the ability to drive powered wheelchairs (PWC) and access computers using their unconstrained tongue motion. Migration of the TDS processing unit and user interface platform from a bulky personal computer to a smartphone (iPhone) has significantly facilitated its usage by turning it into a true wireless and wearable AT. After implementation of the necessary interfacing hardware and software to allow the smartphone to act as a bridge between the TDS and PWC, the wheelchair navigation performance and associated learning was evaluated in nine able-bodied subjects in five sessions over a 5-week period. Subjects wore magnetic tongue studs over the duration of the study and drove the PWC in an obstacle course with their tongue using three different navigation strategies; namely unlatched, latched, and semiproportional. Qualitative aspects of using the TDS-iPhone-PWC interface were also evaluated via a five-point Likert scale questionnaire. Subjects showed more than 20 improvement in the overall completion time between the first and second sessions, and maintained a modest improvement of 9 per session over the following three sessions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2194713
Pages (from-to)1787-1796
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012


  • Assistive technologies
  • brain-tongue-computer interfacing
  • environment control
  • quadriplegia
  • smartphones
  • tongue piercing
  • wheeled mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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