For more than two decades, Professor Suaning has played a leading role in implantable bionics in Australia, both in the commercial domain with the development of cochlear implants for the deaf, and more recently in the academic pursuit of a first generation visual prosthesis for the profoundly blind.
In the early 1990's Suaning was a significant part of the design team on the second generation cochlear implant, the Nucleus CI24, which is the basis of the enormously successful present-day implant manufactured and sold by a market-leading Australian commercial entity.
As part of Prof. Suaning's PhD dissertation, he developed neurostimulation technology, powered and programmed by radio-telemetry, implantable within the anatomy of the eye, and able to deliver safe, precisely controlled, constant current, biphasic stimuli to 100 unique electrode sites. This research led to proof-of-principle that electrical stimulation of surviving neurons of the retina is a promising method of treatment for the restoration of rudimentary vision to the profoundly blind.
In collaborative work with Danish and German researchers, this same technology was found to be able to derive physiological activation of nerve fascicles in motor control of muscles, giving rise to the ability to apply high-density, patterned stimulation to restore movement to paralysed limbs.
After five years at the University of Newcastle, he returned to UNSW to lead the Device Development research for Bionic Vision Australia - an ARC Special Research Initiative for Bionic Vision Technologies (2010-2014). Currently he is advancing the bionic eye technology to its clinical testing phase.