There will come a day when most humans don’t just use technology, or wear it on their heads and wrists, they inject it into their bodies to improve themselves.
That’s the vision of both sci-fi writers and people who call themselves “futurists.” One of them, Ray Kurzweil, even has a name for it: the singularity. That’s a point when technology and our bodies merge and we bcome different creatures at the next level of evolution.
There are a few brave souls at the edge of the singularity now. Sometimes they even call themselves cyborgs. These are people who have implanted tech directly into their bodies, for a variety of reasons.
Neil Harbisson is probably the most famous cyborg. He was born with a severe form of colour blindness that doesn't allow him to see colour at all.
In 2004, he, along with Adam Montandon, developed a device he calls the 'Eyeborg.' It translates colours into sounds, musical notes, piped into his brain. It allows him to experience colour that way.
Harbisson became the face of this cyborg movement in 2013, when the film 'Cyborg Foundation' won a $US100,000 grand prize from the GE/Focus Forward Filmmaker Competition.
Amal Graafstra has implanted an RFID chip into each of his hands, which you can see, near his thumbs in that X-ray photo.
And he founded a company, Dangerous Things, that sells do-it-yourself implant kits to others who want to do the same.
He uses the implants for all sorts of things. He programmed them, for example, to unlock his car, home, and computer with a wave of his hand. No more looking for lost keys or forgotten passwords.
A few years ago, Adi Robertson had a magnet implanted in her ring finger and last June, she visited Dangerous Things, bought an NFC chip, and implanted that in her hand, too.
The magnet lets her do things like levitate a beer cap, she said in a recent essay about it on The Verge.
But, the NFC chip has been more 'boring' than she planned. Near Field Communication is a young wireless technology, but there aren't many things that work with it yet. She doesn't use it as a key for her office or apartment, or to hold her credit card information. And the iPhone doesn't support it.
Kevin Warwick is Professor of Cybernetics at The University of Reading, England, where he does research into artificial intelligence, robotics, and biomedical engineering.
While working on a robotic arm to help people who have lost a limb, he experimented on himself, implanting a device that links his nervous system directly to a computer. He can use it to remotely operate lights, heaters, and computers.
Under the right circumstances, someone else can control this device. His wife, Irena also put an implant into her body, and with that can control the device in his arm.
He wrote a book, 'I, Cyborg' about his work and his implants.
He controls it with a tablet and he can connect it to other devices in his house.
'So if, for example, I've had a stressful day, the Circadia will communicate that to my house and will prepare a nice relaxing atmosphere for when I get home: Dim the lights, let in a hot bath,' he told the New York Daily News.
Another project from the Cyborg Foundation is called the 360º sensory extension.
Choreographer Moon Ribas' upgraded the back of her head to vibrate when someone approaches her from behind. In this first prototype she wore the device with a matching pair of earrings. The earrings let her feel vibration on her left ear if someone was standing behind on the left. Ditto for the right.
The Cyborg Foundation is working on a number of other implants in addition to the Eyeborg. The Speedborg gives you 'internal radar' that lets you perceive the exact speed of objects moving in front of you.
The first prototypes were attached to the hand (2007-2009) followed by other devices attached to the earlobes, the foundation says.
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