Australian Vision Prosthesis Group



Restoring Vision

We seek to restore some visual percepts to persons suffering profound vision impairment through research, design, construction and trialing of a stimulating retinal neuroprosthesis - a so-called "bionic eye".


It is easily argued that profound vision loss is the most debilitating of all sensory impairments. As a treatment method, we shall research, design and construct a vision prosthesis for the profoundly blind.

For several decades Australia has been a recognised leader in neurostimulation, beginning with Telectronics Pacing Systems, and more recently Cochlear Limited, both of who set standards for innovation and design in their fields. In keeping with Australia 's historic role in this field, our Australian Vision Prosthesis Group (AVPG) is working towards clinical trials of a visual prosthesis for the blind.


In 1997, the investigators (A/Prof Gregg Suaning and Prof Nigel Lovell) set out to develop a visual prosthesis for the treatment of disorders causing blindness. The project originated out of the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). In 2002, Dr Suaning moved to the University of Newcastle (UNEW). Late in 2007 Gregg Suaning moved back to UNSW as an Associate Professor. A team of dedicated researchers and graduate students now work on the project including collaborators from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) at the University of Melbourne, the Bionic Ear Institute (BEI) and the Vision Sciences Group at the Australian National University.

Recent Group News

Bionic Vision Australia

On 30 March, 2010, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Kevin Rudd, launched Bionic Vision Australia, a consortium including the Australian Vision Prosthesis Group at UNSW, University of Melbourne, University of Western Sydney, Australian National University, Centre for Eye Research Australia, the Bionic Ear Institute and NICTA.

The Prime Minister's speech can be seen and heard HERE (52 MB, MP4 format)

The launch included the revealing of the AVPG "wide view" device that will be the flagship device that will take the BVA to human trials, aimed to be underway by 2013. The formation of BVA is an important milestone in the development of the bionic eye, and the $42M of Australian Research Council funding for the BVA will ensure that Australian researchers can continue to conduct world-leading research, and develop devices that are beneficial to thousands of people world-wide.

Further details are available at

The revealing of the "Wide View" Stimulator" developed by AVPG researchers at UNSW

The Prime Minister of Australia viewing the first prototype of the AVPG vision processing system and patient-worn glasses. With thanks to Jarred Twigg who created the model.

Powerhouse Museum

The powerhouse museum in Sydney has a display on the history of the bionic eye featuring AVPG devices

YouTube Video

Some of the UNSW work on the bionic eye has been captured in a YouTube clip.


Collaboration between AVPG, NICTA, BEI and CERA

As reported in the Australian newspaper on 23rd October 2007 the AVPG is working towards a collaboration between itself, the National Information Communications Technology Australia (NICTA), the Bionic Ear Institute (BEI) and the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA).

Pictured from left are Gregg Suaning, Nigel Lovell and John Parker from NICTA.

AVPG student wins first prize at EMBC07 conference in Lyon France

Two students (Louis Jung and Yan Tat Wong) from the AVPG were selected as finalists and given travel support to present at the 29th Annual International conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Lyon, France that was held Aug 23rd - 26th, 2007.

Yan Wong was awarded first prize of $1000 US in the student paper competition. His paper was co-authored by other students from the AVPG including Spencer Chen, Norbert Dommel and Luke Hallum.

Pictured from left to right are Prof Nigel Lovell, Yan Tat Wong, Louis Jung and A/Prof Gregg Suaning.

AVPG students win first prize at EMBC06 conference in New York

Three students from the AVPG and another PhD student from GSBmE at UNSW were selected as finalists and given travel support to present at the 28th Annual International conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, New York that was held Aug 30th - Sep 3rd, 2006. Several hundred students from around the world submitted papers for the student award competition.

Norbert Dommel and Yan Wong working on a "Second generation visual neurostimulator" were awarded first prize of $1000 US in the student design competition. Dean Karanatonis, who is working on "Noninvasive control approaches for an implantable rotary blood pump" won second prize of $250 US in the student scientific paper competition. In a very close contest Spencer Chen from the AVPG just missed on a placing.

Pictured from left to right are UNSW PhD students Spencer Chen, Norbert Dommel, Yan Tat Wong, Dean Karantonis, IEEE EMBS president Prof Yongmin Kim, Prof Nigel Lovell, A/Prof Gregg Suaning and Luke Hallum.

Third Trans-Hawkesbury meeting of the AVPG

The AVPG held its third annual research and planning meeting at Ourimbah on the 23rd August, 2006. In an annual pilgrimage, researchers and staff from UNSW and UNEW descended on the sleepy Ourimbah campus.


AVPG invited to present at Artificial Vision 2006: The Bonn Dialogue
International Symposium on Prosthetic Vision

Vision prosthetic researchers from around the world will be gathering in Bonn on the 9th September, 2006 to share their experiences. The AVPG has been invited to share their work with the international scientific community.

The Symposium is organized by the Retina Implant Foundation, Germany.

AVPG students are finalists for EMBS conference in New York

The AVPG has excelled in terms of student papers at the 28th Annual International conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, New York that will be held Aug 30th - Sep 3rd, 2006. Several hundred students from around the world submitted papers for the student award competition and AVPG PhD student Spencer Chen (with help from PhD student Luke Hallum) was judged by reviewers to be a finalist. The finalists are invited to present their papers at the conference, and alsoinvited to an awards reception where the top three are given prizes. They also receive complimentary registration and $500 US towards expenses.

In addition, two other of our PhD students, Norbert Dommel and Yan Wong, were selected in the top three of the student design competition (a separate competition involving a design task). They also were awarded $1000 US funds to travel to the conference. The top design paper will also receive a monetary prize.

A total of eight conference proceedings will be presented by AVPG members.

UNSW's Uniken magazine reports on bionic eye funding

Researchers from the AVPG were recently awarded two NHMRC Development Grants for 2006-2008. A grant valued at $200k was to develop ambulatory monitoring technology for falls detection in the elderly.

A $400k grant was awarded to continue animal and subsequently acute human trial sof the bionic eye technology. View the Uniken story here.

Related work on neuroprosthetics

A UNSW team (including as shown in the picture Profs Nigel Lovell, Claude Sammut and John Morley, and Dr Michael Breakspear) working on a robotic hand has been awarded one of only three multimillion dollar grants under the Federal Government's Thinking Systems initiative.

The ARC (Australian Research Council) and NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) awarded the cross-disciplinary team $3.3 million over the next five years.

The research involves neuroscientists, mathematicians, engineers, psychologists and robotics experts. The work could eventually produce a range of medical benefits including novel prosthetics and rehabilitation strategies for stroke patients.

The Fourth Biennial Congress on Artificial Vision: Eye and Chip Congress 2006

Gregg Suaning and Nigel Lovell attended the Eye and Chip Congress in Detroit on 15-17 June 2006 as invited Faculty.

Sponsored by the Detroit Insitute of Ophthalmolgy, the Eye and the Chip Congress aims to bring together researchers into vision prosthetics - addressing projects that may ultimately, through leading edge technology, provide “artificial vision” to the visually impaired and blind.

More information on the event is here.


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