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31 October 2022

According to a team of researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS), individuals with limited hand functions will soon be able to have a way to control their devices, such as wheelchairs, computers and smart phones, by wearing a smart mouthguard. This mouthguard will accurately translate complex bite patterns quickly into instructions, which will then control electronic gadgets.

Led by Professor Liu Xiaogang, from the Department of Chemistry at the Faculty of Science at the NUS, together with collaboration from Tsinghua University, this is a first-of-its-kind bite-controlled optoelectronic system.

In recent years there has been innovation in assistive technology, such as eye tracking and voice recognition, to help with the lives of people with limited dexterity or living with neurological conditions – but there are limitations with these new technologies that include cost, control accuracy and maintenance, and also environmental factors.

Professor Liu and his team have designed and demonstrated an alternative with a mouthguard that contains integrated pressure sensors which detects occlusal patterns (the patterns of biting teeth surfaces). After being translated into the data inputs, the team believes that it provides 98% accuracy.

The design includes a series of contact pads that is placed within a flexible mouthguard where the data is then collected and used for remote control and the operation of various electronic devices. Weighing approximately 7g, and when compared to other assistive technologies, it requires less training and costs $100 in the lab, which in mass production should cost less.

Currently the team has filed for a patent. To find out more about the research, please read The Engineer’s article about the smart mouthguard.

Imbedded into this article are two videos of mouthguard control. Watch People Steer a Wheelchair and Play Piano Using an Electronic Mouth Guard (