Sights Out

When your computer, car, phone, or any other Thing is dead or ready for an upgrade, we head out to the store and upgrade our tech. It's a simple proposition. But what do you do when your tech is literally inside your body? That is the real scenario faced by many customers of Second Sight. This was a company pioneering medical implants to help visually-impaired people see again. "Was" is the keyword, because they're now out of business. Eliza Strickland and Mark Harris at IEEE have this more of this cautionary tale.

Yet in 2020, Byland had to find out secondhand that the company had abandoned the technology and was on the verge of going bankrupt. While his two-implant system is still working, he doesn’t know how long that will be the case. “As long as nothing goes wrong, I’m fine,” he says. “But if something does go wrong with it, well, I’m screwed. Because there’s no way of getting it fixed.”

It's mind-boggling to imagine technology inside you becoming obsolete and it being something you truly depend on. According to Strickland and Harris' reporting, there are more than 350 patients with Second Sight's technology implanted into their bodies. Second Sight ended up merging with an early-stage biopharmaceutical company called Nano Precision Medical (NPM). No Second Sight’s executives will be on the leadership team of the new company. Nobody from NPM would agree to get interviewed by IEEE. Doesn't exactly instill confidence.

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