Maybe You Really Can Sense Magnetic Fields

We’ve known for years that many animals can somehow sense magnetic fields. Birds apparently use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate. Dogs can find a box containing a magnet better than they can find a similar box with a food treat in it. But humans, apparently, can’t visualize magnetic fields without help. Several scientists at California, New Jersey, and Japan have done experiments that seem to show that people’s brains do have changes when a magnetic field rotates. If the paper, titled “Transduction of the Geomagnetic Field as Evidenced from Alpha-band Activity in the Human Brain” is a bit much for you, might enjoy the video from Veritasium, below, which is much easier to parse than the paper.

To see it work, a subject sits in a dark isolated room with an electrode cap that picks up the subject’s EEG. The study shows that different people have different sensitivity to the field. Also, picking up a magnetic field in an isolated chamber is different from picking it up on the sidewalk and using it to navigate with. Continue reading “Maybe You Really Can Sense Magnetic Fields”

Human Augmentation For Weight Loss

If you read almost any article about powered human implants, you will encounter the same roadblock, “it could be so much better with more powerful batteries.” Our fleshy power systems are different from electrical systems, but we are full of moving parts, so [Xudong Wang] and fellow researchers have harnessed that power (Sci Hub Alt) and turned it right back into something else our body understands.

The goal of this project is to control obesity by tricking the vagus nerve into thinking we are full as we digest our current meal. The treatment has already been proven with battery-powered implants, but this version uses the oscillations of the stomach for power and sends the generated power right where it is needed. A control group of rats showed no change over 100 days, but those with this implant shed more than a third of their body weight. This may need some tuning but its effectiveness seems to be heading the right way, and it is surgically reversible.

The device is a triboelectric generator coated in polyimide and Ecoflex™ with gold electrodes that wrap around the vagus nerve at the gastro-esophageal junction. The generator presses against the stomach from outside and the rhythm of the muscles generates the signal that the stomach is full so it becomes a loop of digesting ⇄ sated.

Another handful, of implants don’t need power from inside the body and use RFID technology.
Via IEEE Spectrum.

Internal Power Pills

Arguably the biggest hurdle to implanted electronics is in the battery. A modern mobile phone can run for a day or two without a charge, but that only needs to fit into a pocket and were its battery to enter a dangerous state it can be quickly removed from the pocket. Implantable electronics are not so easy to toss on the floor. If the danger of explosion or poison isn’t enough, batteries for implantables and ingestibles are just too big.

Researchers at MIT are working on a new technology which could move the power source outside of the body and use a wireless power transfer system to energize things inside the body. RFID implants are already tried and tested, but they also seem to be the precursor to this technology. The new implants receive multiple signals from an array of antennas, but it is not until a couple of the antennas peak simultaneously that the device can harvest enough power to activate. With a handful of antennas all supplying power, this happens regularly enough to power a device 0.1m below the skin while the antenna array is 1m from the patient. Multiple implants can use those radio waves at the same time.

The limitations of these devices will become apparent, but they could be used for releasing drugs at prescribed times, sensing body chemistry, or giving signals to the body. At this point, just being able to get the devices to turn on so far under flesh is pretty amazing.

Recently, we asked what you thought of the future of implanted technology and the comment section of that article is a treasure trove of opinions. Maybe this changes your mind or solidifies your opinion.

Continue reading “Internal Power Pills”

Magnet Implants, Your Cyborg Primer

What would you do to gain a sixth sense? Some of us would submit to a minor surgical procedure where a magnet is implanted under the skin. While this isn’t the first time magnet implants have been mentioned here on Hackaday, [The Thought Emporium] did a phenomenal job of gathering the scattered data from blogs, forum posts, and personal experimentation into a short video which can be seen after the break.

As [The Thought Emporium] explains in more eloquent detail, a magnet under the skin allows the implantee to gain a permanent sense of strong magnetic fields. Implantation in a fingertip is most common because nerve density is high and probing is possible. Ear implants are the next most useful because oscillating magnetic fields can be translated to sound.

For some, this is merely a parlor trick. Lifting paper clips and messing with a compass are great fun. Can magnet implants be more than whimsical baubles?

Continue reading “Magnet Implants, Your Cyborg Primer”

THP Semifinalist: B10N1C Yourself

The Hackaday Prize has had a few medical devices make the semifinalist cut, and of course wearables are on the list. How about implantables? That’s what Bionic Yourself 2.0 (or B10N1C) is doing with an implantable microcontroller, battery, and sensor system.

The hardware in B10N1C includes a electromyography sensor for measuring muscle activity, an accelerometer, a vibration motor, RFID reader/writer, temperature sensor, and – get this – a LED bar graph that will shine a light through the skin. That’s something we’ve never seen before, and if you’re becoming a cyborg, it’s a nice feature to have.

As with anything you would implant in your body, safety is a prime consideration for Bionic.the Lithium battery can be overcharged (yes, through a wireless charging setup) to 10V without a risk of fire or explosion, can be hit with a hammer, and can even be punctured. The enclosure is medical grade silicone, the contacts are medical grade stainless steel, and there’s a humidity sensor inside that will radio a message saying its time to remove the device if the moisture level in the enclosure increases.

Because the device is implanted under the skin, being able to recharge and update the code without a physical connection is the name of the game. There’s a coil for wireless charging, and a lot of work is going into over the air firmware updating. It’s an astonishing project, and while most people probably won’t opt for a cyborg implant, it will look really cool.


SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a quarterfinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

Hacking Magnets Into Your Skin

[Dave] loved his iPod nano so much that he implanted 4 magnets in his arm to hold it.

Ok, go ahead and shout “fanboy” at your screen and say something snide about apples products or lament the poor working conditions at foxconn. Got it out of your system? Cool.

Actually, if we had to guess, [Dave] really isn’t doing this all for his love of the device or the company. It is much more likely that he is just really into body modding and this was a convenient theme for a mod. We find the idea pretty interesting. We’ve seen implants before, but they are usually of the RFID type. Typically those are used for some kind of security or computer control.

Implanting a magnet, however, is interesting because it could almost give you a “sixth sense” You could detect what was magnetic, and how magnetic it was. If we were going to do something like this, we would probably go fully sub-dermal though to help avoid infection.

What other kind of implants could you realistically do with today’s technology to give yourself other senses?