Electrical engineer Maysam Ghovanloo developed the Tongue Drive system in collaboration with graduate student Xueliang Huo.
Since the tongue is directly connected to the brain via cranial nerves, it usually remains mobile when other body parts lose function to disease or accidents.
That mobility underlies the new system, which may one day provide greater flexibility and simplicity to individuals who would otherwise use sip-and-puff controls or brain implants.
The findings have been presented on June 29 at the 2008 Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
"Tongue Drive is inherently wireless and touch-free because it relies on a tiny magnetic tracer attached to the tongue with no power consumption," said Ghovanloo.
"Tongue movements are also fast, accurate and do not require much thinking, concentration or effort," added Ghovanloo.