How haptics can enhance bionic eyes

Haptic devices — technologies that simulate the feel of an object — should be used as early as possible in children fitted with visual prosthetics, and also for older congenitally blind and late-blind people, George van Doorn and colleagues at Monash University suggest.
The haptic device can provide supplementary or redundant information that allows cross-referencing with the visual input from the prosthetic, they explain. This will help train the brain more effectively to understand the electrical input it is receiving from the prosthetic.
The brain can be retrained to “understand” inputs from seemingly odd places. For instance, researchers grafted an electronic retina, similar to a low-resolution digital camera, to a patient’s tongue and then helped the patient learn how to interpret patterns of light hitting the sensor, even though the electrical signals reach the brain from receptors in the tongue.