Medical product stories at second sight at Techdirt.
from the future is now department
Techirt has long discussed the fact that in the modern age, the things you buy aren’t actually the things you buy. And the things you own are not really the things you own. things you thought you own may be downgraded, bricked, or removed entirely without notice. This game console with backwards compatibility? It no longer has backwards compatibility. That smart home hub or smart speaker at the heart of your living room setup that you’ve been enjoying for years? It doesn’t work for long. The movies and books you thought were permanently in your personal catalog? Sorry, they are no longer. That two-year-old phone in pristine condition? It no longer receives security updates, which puts you and your data at risk.
This is all bad enough when it comes to smart home hubs or smart fridges, but it’s quite another thing when it comes to medical implants. IEEE Spectrum has the second Sight Medical Products Cory Doctorow-esque cautionary tale of how Argus optical implants were commonly fitted to early patients to help them see. Aptly heralded as immeasurably innovative at the time, these devices may soon no longer work or be supported because the company that made them is bankrupt:
“Terry Byland is the only person to have had this type of implant in both eyes. He received the first-generation Argus I implant, manufactured by Second Sight Medical Products, in his right eye in 2004 and the subsequent Argus II implant in his left 11 years later. He helped the company test the technology, spoke fondly to the press about his experiences, and even met Stevie Wonder at a conference. ?[I] went from being just a test person to being a spokesperson, ? he remembers.
Yet in 2020, Byland must have found out firsthand that the company had abandoned the technology and was on the verge of bankruptcy. While his two-implant system is still working, he doesn’t know how long that will be. “As long as everything is fine, I’m fine.” he says. “But if something’s wrong with that, well, I’m screwed. Because there’s no way to get it fixed.
Users have gone from the miracle of suddenly being able to see their first Christmas tree, to the terror of seeing the gift taken from them without any recourse. Additionally, systems that have been installed create further health complications if they remain installed but stop working and are difficult to remove – a cost that must be borne by patients. The company’s patients have gone from a life revolutionized by technology to, well, the opposite:
“These three patients, and more than 350 other blind people around the world with Second Sight implants in their eyes, find themselves in a world in which the technology that transformed their lives is just one outdated gadget among many . A technical problem, a broken wire, and they lose their artificial vision, perhaps forever.
It’s quite a cautionary tale for the entire electroceutical industry, and those who take on the advanced technologies that help them today will stay there for tomorrow. It’s one thing that your flip phone or Betamax player becomes useless, it’s another that essential health devices embedded in your skull simply stop working because their manufacturer couldn’t keep their finances in check. order.
Filed Under: argus i, optical implants, property, right to repair
Companies: second-line medical products