November 7th, 2012 by rbanks
Rat-like whiskers could help blind “see” with their fingers
"The team of scientists, led by Prof. Ehud Ahissar and Dr. Amos Arieli, enrolled human volunteers to wear blindfolds and a flexible plastic “whisker” of 30 cm (almost 12 inches) in length, which was attached to the index finger and sported position and force sensors on its base. The volunteers employed the whiskers to perform location tests, in which they were required to discern which of two previously-placed poles was positioned farther away from themselves. The subjects took to the challenge so well that on the first day alone, they were able to identify the correct pole, when it was positioned further back from its counterpart by only 8 cm (3 inches). An analysis of the data gleaned from the research showed that the volunteers were able to do this by noting which whisker made contact with the pole first."