Haptics Can “Lend a Hand” to a Bionic Eye

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Abstract

Here we argue that haptics (touch and kinaesthesis) can play a key role in the development of a bionic eye. Tactile displays can supplement and complement the incomplete information that a visual prosthetic will offer the brain in early stages of the prosthetic’s development. Kinaesthetic inputs give the brain feedback about motor activities that correlate with both visual and tactile inputs, and are critical for perceptual competency. Haptic inputs can also help “teach” the new visual sense to respond to stimuli that are initially indiscriminable and enable cross-calibration of inputs to strengthen multimodal cortical connections. By using haptics to supplement and complement inputs from a visual prosthetic, a bionic eye can develop more quickly than did the Bionic Ear.