Dung Le’s cerebral palsy so severely impairs his movement that simply trying to form words makes his whole body develop a sweat. But a new communication device allowed Le to let his voice out for the first time at age 27 and could soon help others with severe mobility problems as well.

The device uses an infrared camera directed at a person’s face to detect heat patterns. The camera is attached to a computer and it senses when the individual’s mouth is open. The computer program cycles through letters on a screen and when the desired letter is highlighted, the user opens their mouth to signal as much.

Le was the first to use the device in June. Sitting in a lab with his mom and several researchers, Le spelled the word “mother.” At age 27, it was the first word he ever expressed.

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An estimated 400,000 people in the United States and Canada live with similar mobility challenges and may benefit from the infrared camera which researchers say is easy to use compared with other communication devices for this population. It’s also expected to be relatively affordable at about $2,000, reports The (Toronto) Globe and Mail. To read more click here.