“Technology, for me, it’s giving something back to somebody who was taken out of humanity.” – Andy Fabino

What if we told you there are new innovations that can help about 285 million people around the world living with a visual impairment move around with a little more ease? 1

Okay, it’s easy enough to believe, but what if we told you the innovation works by using the surface of their tongues?

Image: Woman's face with brightly colored paint on it, indicating the new vision that this advanced technology will bring to peoples lives.

Source: Pixabay

Now here’s something that should be celebrated: there’s an increasing number of sensory-substitution devices being developed that use the brain in the most remarkable way. These devices take in visual information from the environment and translate it into forms of physical touch or sound in order to be interpreted by the user as vision.

If that’s not amazing enough, The New Yorker lets us in on yet another benefit:

“While these devices were designed with the goal of restoring lost sensation, in the past decade they have begun to revise our understanding of brain organization and development. The idea that underlies sensory substitution is a radical one: that the brain is capable of processing perceptual information in much the same way, no matter which organ delivers it.” 2

The brain is capable of so much more than we’ve ever imagined!

In a few moments, you’ll learn a bit more about just how the advanced technology of the BrainPort® V100 is helping the blind see with their tongues, and feel what kind of impact these new innovations can have on someone’s quality of life. Huge thanks to the talented director, Paul Hairston, of Acres for capturing the story of Andy Fabino, and sharing it with us.

Now seriously, how great is that?

If you’d like to see more work we’ve featured directed by Paul Hairston, check out this article!

10 minutes

Virtual Reality Isn’t Just for the Kids!

The potential for virtual reality systems is making its way into some unexpected corners, and it may even have the power to change lives! Here's one function it performs that most of us have never considered!

Read More

So, here’s another amazing experience with BrainPort…

In 2001, adventurer Erik Weihenmayer climbed Mount Everest and went down in history as the first person to complete this grueling task without sight (no devices used). You can see the rest of his adventures by clicking here, but in the meantime, the video below gives us a look into how BrainPort® is utilized in his life when he isn’t out there conquering the world.

(Keep in mind that this video is from 2009, so the device looks a bit different than it does today!)

Vision helps us feel like a part of our tribe.

Nearly a decade after this video was uploaded, The New Yorker published an article written by Nicole Twilley. Here’s a small excerpt from her interview with Weihenmayer:

He told me that he had never seen the world particularly well even before he became totally blind. “With the BrainPort, it’s similar to what I used to be able to see like,” he said. “Shapes, shades of light and dark—where things basically were, but not anything super-vivid, you know?”

“When you go blind, you get kicked out of the club,” Weihenmayer told me. Using the BrainPort, he said, makes him feel like part of the gang again. He can see what his family is doing, without anyone needing to tell him. And he can never forget seeing his son smile for the first time. “I could see his lips sort of shimmering, moving,” Weihenmayer said. “And then I could see his mouth just kind of go ‘Brrrrp’ and take over his whole face. And that was cool, because I’d totally forgotten that smiles do that.” 6

Weihenmayer is working to make it possible for everyone to live without barriers in their life, with a movement thriving on the motto, “what’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way.” Learn more about No Barriers to be inspired by a beautiful community.

Learn more about the Conspiracy of Goodness happening around the world by clicking here!

Technology, at its core, is developed to add something to our lives; to break down our barriers, provide ease, increase efficiency, and shine light into the dark spaces.

But this is only progress that can happen if we’re all talking about the fantastic advances being made in technology, and finding ways to make them easily accessible for those who hold the desire to include these devices in their lives. Please, share this article within your own circles so that this information will land in the right hands.You can learn more about the BrainPort® visual aid by clicking here!

Do you know of any amazing new innovations we haven’t featured yet? We’d love to hear about them!

Keep yourself open to new possibilities!

  • Sam


Here’s a look at the device again in it’s earlier days! This video has a great description of what it’s like to learn how to use the device and what it was capable of, even a decade ago. Think about the advancements and possibilities now!

Via: CBS  7

Want to explore a little more?

Click the button below to browse our entire category of amazing innovations in technology!

Technology on EWC

Oh! Before you leave this page, please make sure you subscribe! We promise we won’t fill your inbox with unnecessary information, a little dose of optimism. Who doesn’t need a little more of that in their life?



  1. “Visual Impairment and Blindness.” World Health Organization. World Health Organization, Aug. 2014. Web. 13 Sept. 2017. <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/>.
  2. Twilley, Nicola. “Seeing with Your Tongue.” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 15 May 2017. Web. 13 Sept. 2017. <https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/15/seeing-with-your-tongue>.
  3. “Tasting Sight.” Vimeo. Paul Hairston, Nov. 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2017. <https://vimeo.com/192156335>.
  4. Hairston, Paul. “Acres.” Untold Tech | Acres. Acres New York, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2017. <http://www.acresnewyork.com/work/untold-tech/>.
  5. “Brainport Vision Device.” YouTube. Touchthetop, 03 Mar. 2009. Web. 14 Sept. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNkw28fz9u0&feature=youtu.be>.
  6. Twilley, Nicola. “Seeing with Your Tongue.” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 15 May 2017. Web. 13 Sept. 2017. <https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/15/seeing-with-your-tongue>.
  7. “Blind Learn To See With Tongue.” YouTube. CBS, 19 Jan. 2007. Web. 15 Sept. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKd56D2mvN0>.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and procurer of cheeses.

In this Circle

Helping the Blind See With Their Tongues

14 minutes

[ Health ]

By Sam Burns

Have you heard of the device that uses the tongue to transmit visual information to the brain? Today, we'll take a look at the lives of Andy and Erik to see the potential in this amazing innovation!
Read More

Saving the Rainforest with Old Cell Phones

11 minutes

[ Animals ]

By Sam Burns

How can we police large swaths of endangered rainforest with something we all have at home? The incredible startup Rainforest Connection is taking our old cell phones and giving them a second life as protectors of some of the most at-risk habitat on the planet!
Read More

Can Super Mario Teach Us To Be More Successful?

26 minutes

[ Creativity ]

By Sam Burns

There's a tendency to look at what stands in our way to success and feel overwhelmed. But Mark Rober has a novel method to get around this, and he calls it the Super Mario Effect. Now, THIS is a game-changer!
Read More

Sperm Whales’ Clicks are Expanding Possibility!

25 minutes

[ Animals ]

By Sam Burns

What if sperm whales are communicating with language far more complex than we are? Could our view of ourselves change if we learn that they may be as capable of future planning, reasoning, and emotions like love and empathy? These mysteries are beginning to be unraveled!
Read More

Grab Your Hat! You’re About to Become a Space Archaeologist.

24 minutes

[ Conspiracy of Goodness ]

By Sam Burns

Ever wished that you could be the one to discover an amazing ancient site? Well, what if we told you that you can be, by connecting to a satellite, yourself!?
Read More

Shadow Dancing Taking Us to New Worlds!

13 minutes

[ Art ]

By Sam Burns

The dance troupe Pilobolus is known for their mind-bending work and their incredible experiments in shadow and performance will completely transform your sense of reality!
Read More

What Makes Stonehenge So Remarkable?

23 minutes

[ Culture ]

By Sam Burns

By looking closely at the landscape around Stonehenge we can catch a glimpse at the people who built and used it. Yes, there is much more to it than meets the eye!
Read More

Transforming Pollution into a Powerful Platform for Change

5 minutes

[ Art ]

By Sam Burns

Can pollution from your tailpipe be turned into something positive? Air-Ink has found a way to turn the smog that would normally end up in our lungs into inks that artists are using to raise awareness. This innovation points to new possibilities for our future—take a look.
Read More

Single Mothers are Saving Africa’s Endangered Wildlife

7 minutes

[ Animals ]

By Sam Burns

The best thought leaders among us are quick to accept the risk of abandoning assumptions. Their courage often brings out the best in others, and here's an amazing example of that alchemy!
Read More

How Tall Bikes Could Save the World!

22 minutes

[ Art ]

By Sam Burns

Since the dawn of time, wildly creative people (often considered foolish) have been bringing ingenious concepts into our daily lives. Here's a brilliantly fun and remarkable innovation that may be on the horizon!
Read More

Did You Know We Can Garden in Space?

8 minutes

[ Conspiracy of Goodness ]

By Sam Burns

Lettuce, zinnias, peas, and radishes are just some of the plants that have found their roots in space. But what does this mean for our future?
Read More

Need to Solve a Problem? Turn to Nature!

7 minutes

[ Animals ]

By Sam Burns

The natural world is a remarkable problem solver. So, why aren't we turning to nature to find more answers to our complex problems? Here's how biomimicry is helping us build a better future!
Read More