It’s typical to see wild, unusual tech coming out of CES and indeed, this announcement fits into that category. Announced in Vegas this week, the MouthPad is a device that allows users to operate their phones and other devices with nothing but their tongues.
Asreported by Engadget, the MouthPad, which is a fun play on words, is a retainer-like device that features a touchpad, battery, and Bluetooth radio. Augmental Technologies Inc. is the company behind the device, which is an MIT Media Lab spin-off. Augmental makes the retainer of KeySplint Soft resin, which is the same dental-grade material used in dental aligners, bite guards, and other oral appliances. A company named Varta made the battery, which is one with “a long track record of producing safe, medical implant-grade batteries,” says MouthPad’s makers.
The mouthpiece looks very similar to an Invisalign retainer, albeit with some computer components and the section over the front teeth missing. Like a traditional retainer, users will need to send in dental impressions as part of the ordering process. Then, the retainer is 3D-printed based on an individual’s teeth.
The MouthPad is 0.027 inches (0.7mm) thick in most places, except where capsules exist, and the trackpad on the roof of the mouth is 0.19 inches (5mm) thick. The entire device weighs 7.5 grams. Once in a user’s mouth, it is discreet. It’s possible to talk with the MouthPad in (though with that slight lisp common with any retainer), but it does need to be removed while eating.
Once in a user’s mouth, it acts as a curser on iPhones, allowing users to open apps and menus. That includes the camera, which the co-founder demonstrated by taking a selfie with his tongue at CES.
It uses Apple’s Assistive Touch feature, but because of the Bluetooth connectivity, it can be recognized by other devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets. The company says any device supporting a Bluetooth mouse connection should work.
The retainer lasts five hours on a single charge, though MouthPad says it is working to improve this to eight hours by March. Charging the device takes an hour and a half.
At first, it might sound off-putting to control something with a tongue, the MouthPad does promise to be an excellent alternative for those living with certain disabilities. Existing tools can be frustrating and even damaging, as pointed out in a promotional video. The MouthPad promises to be an impressive, approachable, and useful alternative.
“We believe people deserve universal digital access to the devices that have become so ingrained in our daily lives. That’s why we’re committed to pushing the boundaries of how we interact with technology by building intuitive products that empower everyone to unleash their creativity. Whoever you are. Wherever you go. Whatever you do. The MouthPad was created for you,” the company’s mission states.
The MouthPad is open for early access now. General availability will begin later this year.
Image credits: Augmental