Visual Taste: computer + tongue = vision!

By Justin Beck, Jason Malinowski, and Nathan Klapoetke

Released 2/8/2007

What is it?

Visual Taste is an innovative product that lets a user "see" what is on a computer screen. The blind users moves his finger around on a touch screen, and we take the image under the finger and convert it to electrical signals on the user's tongue. It feels similar like how a 9V battery feels when you touch your tongue to it. Soon, the brain begins to remap what you feel on the tongue to your sense of space and vision, giving blind users sight in a way otherwise impossible!

How it Works

  1. A blind user puts their finger on a standard touch screen.
  2. We take the image on the screen, and take a small area around where their finger is. We then convert this to a simple black and white region as you see on the right.
  3. We then send this image pattern to the Tongue Display Unit, or the TDU for short. The TDU creates the pattern on the user's tongue by applying a small voltage to hundreds of small contact points.
  4. The user "explores" the picture, and can feel the outline of any shapes. After a bit of training, a user can begin to build the image in their head, forming a replacement for sight.
  5. The blind user can see a picture that they could not see otherwise!


Watch Kevin identifying a church.

Contact Us

E-mail us at visualtaste(at)uwinnovators(dot)com.

Donate — $100 helps!

Your money will be spent directly on the development of this project by its developers. Our goal is that every blind computer operator will be able to "see" pictures on their computer.