Hundreds of recipients of retinal implants will be "in the dark" after the company makes them goes out of business—an outcome expected imminently after layoffs at Second Sight, which no longer makes the devices.
These three patients, and more than 350 other blind people around the world with Second Sight's implants in their eyes, find themselves in a world in which the technology that transformed their lives is just another obsolete gadget. One technical hiccup, one broken wire, and they lose their artificial vision, possibly forever. To add injury to insult: A defunct Argus system in the eye could cause medical complications or interfere with procedures such as MRI scans, and it could be painful or expensive to remove.
A startling example of why such devices must come with capital-F Freedom baked into their life cycles: a "dead corporation's switch" giving recipients unclouded ownership of their implants and irrevocable rights to service, repair, upgrade and remove them at the ripperdoc of their choice.