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Quick and dirty cyborg

Very simple integrated sensory augmentation
  (+14, -1)(+14, -1)
(+14, -1)
  [vote for,

I've had this idea for a while; just now trying to get it into other people's heads.

A lot of people would like to have some cybernetic enhancements: augmented memory, brain-internal internet access, infrared vision, octopod hydraulic crushing arms with laser beams, etc. But all of this is just wishful thinking science fiction stuff. A few simple interface devices have been developed (Kevin Warwick, tongue brainport, etc.) but most require real surgery or advanced/bulky equipment that is beyond the sort of thing that everyday people will be able to use for many years.

This idea is for a very simple implant that could be built and implanted using modern technology by relative hobbyists. This could get fashionable and into the public eye the same way unusual piercings have become more popular, and spur development of more useful devices.

The idea is for a small M&M shaped device (although I've been told this is a little too small and can migrate) with electrical contacts on both sides (not that an ellipsoid has sides. I mean the ends... I mean... I'll draw a picture.)

The original idea was to have the implant body made of something translucent (and bio-inert, of course. teflon?) and have a solar cell in the center, connected very simply to the two terminals. The entire device is implanted under the skin (the same way RFID tags are implanted in pets with a needle, or the way jewelry is implanted with a small incision and spatula by body modifiers, depending on the size of the device) and in the presence of light shining through the skin, a small voltage is generated between the two terminals, causing a tingling sensation like licking a battery. No real surgery, no tying electrodes directly to nerve cells, no complicated circuitry, but something that will make parts of your body sensitive to light that wouldn't be normally. An array of 10 or so on the back of your neck would allow basic motion detection of light and shadow behind you.

This could, of course, also be extended to RF, magnetism, compass direction, radiation? with slightly more complicated inner workings. Then you could pepper your skin with them, and learn to associate tinglies in different regions with each different sense.

Possible complications:

1. Apparently a layer of *something* -- some different type of tissue -- grows around completely implanted objects. Since the idea is based on the conductivity of wet innards, and the electrical properties of this something are unknown (to me), it might not work after the layer grows in.

2. Apparently, the tingly sensation from licking a battery is caused by salt forming? And you are actually tasting the salt? I'm skeptical...

(Afterthought: Whenever I tell people about this, they start talking about all kinds of other implants, including really complicated impossible for a hobbyist ones, completely missing the point. Try not to miss the point.)

omegatron, Nov 28 2004

Horrible illustration http://img.photobuc...olarcellimplant.gif
[omegatron, Nov 28 2004]

Tongue brainport http://www.sciencen.../20010901/bob14.asp
Pretty related, but external and inconvenient. [omegatron, Nov 28 2004]

Magnetic implant http://www.bmezine....bring/20040226.html
Very similar, but just a passive magnet. (mild warning: bloody pictures. ew!) [omegatron, Nov 28 2004, last modified Dec 07 2004]

2-piece version http://img.photobuc...dupcar/implant2.png
Another horrible illustration [omegatron, Jun 02 2005]


       Alright, I think I understand this. But why would people get this? So that their limbs tingle like they are asleep every time they sunbathe? You mentioned that you could detect light/shadow behind you with some in you neck.... why is this useful? Am i missing something?
Kenry52, Nov 28 2004

       I am quite enamored of this idea. I think it very clever, indeed.   

       The blindside light recognition is a great practical use. Needed would be very, very low latency photoreceptors. Team athletes could use it, at least before it became a banned practice.
bristolz, Nov 28 2004

       I would get one. Depends what you think is cool, I guess.   

       It's theoretically possible to give ourselves more senses than the ones we were born with, and although this is a rather boring implementation, it would give a small taste of what that is like, and inspire more interesting variations.
omegatron, Nov 28 2004

       Maybe small vibration rather than electrical stimulation?
bristolz, Nov 28 2004

       With a little pager motor? :-) That would make it a lot more complicated, I think. Where would it get the power? Are you just suggesting it because of the possible insulation?
omegatron, Nov 28 2004

       Yes, I like this too - the magnetic finger is an interesting idea, especially the (possibly imagined) ability to 'feel' magnetic fields - it would be interesting to see some less anecdotal evidence, but as it stands, I can believe it.   

       Other senses might include radioactivity (for Nuclear power-station workers tired of lugging geiger counters around all day long), trace gasses (would require an external port to collect air samples could be set up to 'smell' out water, or poisonous gas), internal compass (something that tingles slightly when it's aligned due north), and something to measure the proximity of spiders (perhaps called Arachnid Awareness or something...maybe there's a better name out there somewhere.)
zen_tom, Nov 28 2004

       Holy hippocampus Batman.

       Remember that transdermal implants (any that are both under the skin and sticking out of it) are much harder to keep sterile, but similarly should be doable.   

       Uhhh... Hippocampus replacement implant? I think you're missing the point...
omegatron, Dec 01 2004

       [+]. But why even implant it? It would work better if you make the same thing be a necklace or bracelet that you can wear (snugly). Then, after the bugs get worked out, and the tech matures, you can then think about actual implant as an option. Wearable sensors.   

       Oh, and I can already sense a lot of light on the back of my neck. I burn.
sophocles, Dec 01 2004

       Imagine one day your walking out of the hospital and you have a solar array sticking out of your head on long stalks and a green tinted face for sun reflectivity. You meet a nurse with her back turned to you. You find a set of keys a few step away pick them up, and ask "Excuse me miss but are these your keyes?". She to replies while turning around "Hmm? Wha-" "Eek" she screams and runs away screaming.
EvilPickels, Dec 01 2004

       // But why even implant it? //   

       1. Skin is an insulator. 2. You don't have to wear it. :-)
omegatron, Dec 01 2004

       Ok, you've got the spider-sense sorted out. How about the ability to stick to walls and shoot silly string from your wrists?
harebrained, Dec 02 2004

       I don't think these would have to be transdermal. Perhaps it could be a 2-piece unit, with the sensor external and the feedback device internal. I imagine you could have them "connect" through the skin magnetically, and even send a signal through the skin via radio or magnetic waves. Kinda like the magnetic nose-studs that some people use - that way you could remove the sensors or even upgrade them easily.
trekbody, Dec 02 2004

       // Perhaps it could be a 2-piece unit //   

       That is a good idea! Someone else suggested it too, but yours makes more sense and has inspired me.   

       How about this for an implementation: An implant like the one I described, except instead of a solar cell, it has a decently strong magnet inside, and the leads are connected to a simple coil and a little bit of limiting circuitry. The magnet is merely for attaching sensors, which will have their own matching magnets and be completely modular and easily swapped, and the coil will be energized inductively by a coil in the sensor to create the tingly signals. The only downsides I can think of are: Where is the sensor going to get enough power to energize the coil? And it might be a little confusing if you are used to having a light sensor in the same place all the time and then swap it out with something else.
omegatron, Dec 02 2004

       I've added a drawing of the 2-piece unit. The yellow spirals are the transmit and receive coils. The black rectangle is a simple permanent magnet for holding the sensor against the skin, and also functions as a ferromagnetic core for the coil. (Think of this as an AC magnet riding on top of a DC magnet. The two fields don't affect each other.) The pinkish stuff is, of course, the skin. The gray areas are the two contacts for stimulating the skin. The green bits are PCBs. The sensor PCB has (in this case) a solar cell shown in blue and a relaxation oscillator to turn the slowly changing solar cell voltage into a transmittable signal. The receiver PCB has some demodulation circuitry and limiters to prevent painful stimuli or act as a fuse in the presence of very strong fields.   

       This is not nearly as "quick and dirty", but not outside the realms of something a hobbyist could put together, assuming they know how to make the clear casing (bio-inert epoxy?)
omegatron, Jun 02 2005

       I want to give a croissant to the tongue vision thing, that seems genuinely cool and useful.
kaz, Jun 03 2005

       + A more complicated (but very much baked, in nature at least) variation would be the chromatic effects of a cuttlefish's skin.
Adze, Jun 03 2005

       I'm told that certain birds are able to detect compass directions due to a small deposit of iron in their skulls that lets them sense magnetic north. With my sense of direction, this would be a godsend. It could possibly be done with something as simple as an injection which simultaneously adds the necessary iron deposit, and encourages nerves to grow into said deposit.   

       Cross-posted from "Health"
Chrontius, Jul 05 2005

       Instead of a solar cell, use a tiny coil and diode. You'd sense cellphone use or perhaps CB radios in taxicabs.   

       Do neodymium piercings detect 60Hz fluorescent light ballasts overhead?
wbeaty, Jul 18 2010

       As [Kenry52] pointed out, this is a lot of trouble to go to for a slight tingling sensation -- and that's all you get, as long as you keep it "quick & dirty." However, in the right context, a slight tingling sensation could be worth going to a lot of trouble.   

       If you and your lover implanted a matched pair of these, with some sort of very short range (millimeters) RF communication, and you rubbed together just the right parts of your bodies, you might get a bit of a tingle that way. Don't think I'd like this myself, but I could see it being popular with people who're growing bored with implanting merely inert bits of metal in their erogenous zones, and who find tattooing a lover's name a bit passe as a sign of commitment.
mouseposture, Jul 18 2010

       I love the concept, but if you're going to implant something, you might as well put a bit more technology into it.   

       This might be more easily bakeable as necklaces or stick-on devices (using the same stuff they use to stick electrodes on you). Here are a couple of ideas I'll throw out there for any makers in the crowd   

       1) Fingertip-worn color sensors that communicate via vibration   

       2) Light/magnetism necklace where a bead vibrates slightly in the direction of detected force (perhaps a sound version for deaf people?)   

       3) [I might bake this] A digital compass/accelerometer you stick to the back of your neck that indicates change indirection or the direction of movement by lightly tingling an area of skin around a circle (up for north, right for west, etc.). I wonder if such a device could augment my [normally bad] sense of direction if I wore it while driving. This should be makeable with a Lilypad Arduino board, hall effect sensors, and an accelerometer along with a couple of small electromagnetic actuators (8 of them arranged in a circle should be more than enough)
cowtamer, Jul 20 2010


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