The WHO estimates 360 million people worldwide suffer from some form of disabling hearing loss. Of these, about 1 million in both the United States and the United Kingdom suffer from severe to profound hearing loss. Vision loss is becoming an increasing problem as well. Retinal degenerative diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and macular degeneration (MD) affect millions of people every year. Furthermore, the number of people with MD in the United States is projected by the NIH to rise from just under 2 million in 2010 to over 5 million people in 2050.
Neuroprosthetics is a growing field that has the potential to re-engineer a patient's lost sense of sight and sound. While some devices like cochlear implants have been in existence for decades, continued innovation in this area generates new devices today with increased frequency resolution and durability. Additionally, cochlear implants have served as the basis for the growing field of retinal implants. Implanted into the retina to replace a patient's lost rod and cone cells, retinal implants transduce visual information (often gathered by a camera), to the remaining nerve cells in the back of the eye to be sent to and interpreted by the brain. Even still, there are retinal implants that function without cameras, harnessing the pathway of light as it naturally occurs within the eye. These groundbreaking devices confer an artificial sight that through rehabilitation, has the potential to partially restore patients' independence after years in darkness. Efforts to generate MEMS with long-term biocompatibility may further translate into neuroprosthetic, bionic limbs that are integrated with a patient's nervous system. Such devices could greatly enhance the overall quality of life for amputees and paraplegics alike.
IDTechEx provides qualitative analysis of considerations, trends, and future directions in the development of devices for each of these subsegments of neuroprosthetics. Price appears to be one overarching hurdle in potential future uptake of devices such as retinal implants and neuroprosthetic limbs, as they are roughly three to five times more costly than cochlear implants. Additionally, regulatory hurdles for approval and reimbursement also appear to be a common obstacle as companies work towards commercialization. Multiple companies however have continued to be formed, especially in the period surrounding the NIH's Brain Initiative in 2013.
This report covers the competitive landscape for cochlear implants, retinal implants, and neuroprosthetics limbs. An analysis of patent timelines and major developments alongside the most recent technologies is provided for all major players in each respective category. Specifications charts are further provided, comparing major factors that should be considered when choosing or developing a cochlear or retinal implant. Additionally, neural probes, an essential component of any neuroprosthetic device, is also covered in detail providing a list of major developers and relevant applications in this area. Company profiles based from personal interviews with the major retinal implant companies currently or close to commercialization are included alongside one of the newest players in the cochlear implant space.
The forecasts for the various industries are also provided, including individual 10-year forecasts for cochlear implants, retinal implants (RP only), retinal implants (RP + MD patients), and neuroprosthetic limbs. An overall 10-year forecast including all three neuroprosthetic segments is also included, and may be approximately $18B USD by 2028.
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