Michael Beyeler, Melani Sanchez-Garcia Journal of Neural Engineering
How can we return a functional form of sight to people who are living with incurable blindness? Despite recent advances in the development of visual neuroprostheses, the quality of current prosthetic vision is still rudimentary and does not differ much across different device technologies. Rather than aiming to represent the visual scene as naturally as possible, a Smart Bionic Eye could provide visual augmentations through the means of artificial intelligence–based scene understanding, tailored to specific real-world tasks that are known to affect the quality of life of people who are blind, such as face recognition, outdoor navigation, and selfcare. Here we propose to move away from thinking about prosthetic vision as the quest to restore natural vision and instead consider the possibility of providing visual augmentations designed to support a range of patient-relevant real-world tasks. The ability of a visual prosthesis to support everyday tasks might make the difference between abandoned technology and a widely adopted next-generation neuroprosthetic device.