|Cybernetics researcher Kevin Warwick|
Did you know that by implanting a small, rare earth mineral magnet into the tip of your finger you can create a sort of sixth sense for yourself that allows you to sense electromagnetic fields with your finger? This is in addition to all the additional things you could do with a magnet in your finger. While relatively simple, this procedure (which doesn't use anesthetic for legal reasons) is only the tip of the iceberg for the latest generation of people who are creating homebrew devices and implants and installing them in the comfort of their own basement.
People like Kevin Warwick and Neil Harbisson have created devices for themselves that could have remarkable medical benefits. In Warwick's case it has been nerve implants allowing him to remotely control a robotic hand. Harbisson, a colorblind artist, has developed an implant that allows him to perceive color via sounds and vibrations.
Further on the fringe are people like Shawn Sarver and Tim Cannon of Grindhouse Wetwares, who are taking body modification to other extremes, essentially performing in-home surgies to experiment with means of modifying their bodies. Among their various projects they are currently developing a device that when implanted into the skin will communicate with a smartphone via Bluetooth and detail a person's vital stats (heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure).
In a new documentary created by The Verge, Sarver, Cannon, and their ilk detail their efforts as self-proclaimed pioneers of what they see as the next wave of human evolution. By the time FDA and other regulatory bodies and large corporations catch on, they hope to have made huge advancements in body modifications for self improvement, medical uses, and even general entertainment. Only time will tell how far this trend continues (and how far researchers are willing to go on their own), but right now Sarver and Cannon say the field is wide open for anyone with enough know-how and curiosity – and a high enough pain threshold.
Watch the documentary Biohackers and read the full article on The Verge
-Chris Wiltz is the Assistant Editor of MD+DI