Some people take body modification seriously. Really seriously. But how far would you go to enhance your body? Here are five people who went above and beyond in their attempts to push the limits of what’s possible when technology and the body meet.
Kevin Warwick is the British scientist and professor of cybernetics behind “Project Cyborg” the first stage of which involved implanting a radio transmitter underneath his skin which allowed him to control doors, lights, heaters, and other computer-controlled devices based on his proximity.
Since then, Kevin has successfully implanted a neural interface directly into his nervous system allowing him to control a robot arm over the internet and to obtain feedback from sensors in the fingertips.
Finally, in a highly publicised extension to the experiment, a simpler array was successfully implanted into the arm of Warwick’s wife with the aim of creating a form of telepathy using the internet to communicate the signal. The experiment resulted in the first purely electronic communication between the nervous systems of two humans.
Quinn Norton is no stranger to body modification. Her childhood memories include sitting in a waiting room as her mother was pierced. During her research on functional body modification, she had a rare-earth magnet implanted in the tip of her ring finger, which allowed her to sense magnetic and electrical fields.
As Quinn explains, the tip of the ring finger is one of the most nerve-rich areas of the body and as such, is able to detect the tiny movements of the magnet (which is coated in gold and then encased in bio-neutral plastic sheath) as it responds to electro-magnetic fields.
Quinn’s “You Are The Platform” presentation in which she discusses the magnet implant can be viewed here. (N.B. There is some graphic imagery during the presentation)
When Jerry Javala, a computer programmer from helsinki, lost a finger in a motorbike accident, he decided to have his prosthetic finger fitted with a USB drive which can be accessed by pulling back a false nail. He can use the finger for storing data and even changing changing a computer’s operating system.
Jerry said he is already thinking about upgrading his finger to include more storage and integrate wireless technology. ”I’m planning to use anther prosthetic as a shell for the next version, which will have a removable fingertip and an RFID tag. Talk about making lemonade when life gives you lemons..
Up until 2004, Neil Harbisson who suffers from a condition known as achromatopsia, meaning he can only see the world in black and white was unable to distinguish colours, which is inconvenient for an aspiring artist.
However, with the help of a fellow student and a software engineer, Neil is now able to “hear colours” with the aid of a device called the “eyeborg” which converts colours into sound waves. Neil is now able to detect 360 different colour hues.
The inclusion of the eyeborg on his passport photo has been claimed by some to be official recognition of Harbisson as the world’s first official cyborg.
New-York artist Wafaa Bilal had a camera surgically implanted in the back of his head for his 2010 project entitled “The Third I” which involved the camera taking one picture every minute and streaming the images live to the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar.
According to Bilal, the project was designed to be ‘a comment on the inaccessibility of time, and the inability to capture memory and experience.’