A man has implanted magnets into his ears to use as invisible headphones in a remarkable example of DIY transhumanism.
Rich Lee, a self-described transhumanist and body modification fan (or “grinder”), was inspired by a similar idea posted on theInstructables site that featured two small in-ear magnets stimulated with a magnetic coil necklace connected to an amplifier (you can see the video with this piece). The difference is that Lee’s actually implanted his inside his fleshy lobes.
The coil necklace is completely hidden by his clothing, and the scars from the implants are also unnoticeable, so it’s unlikely you’d realise that as he was standing in front of you he could be listening to music. In a way it’s reminiscent of the bone vibration Google Glass uses instead of conventional earphones.
There are other uses, too, he writes in h+ magazine: “Listening to music is nice and probably the most obvious answer, but I intend to do some very creative things with it. I can see myself using it with the GPS on my smartphone to navigate city streets on foot. I plan to hook it up to a directional mic of some sort (possibly disguised as a shirt button or something) so I can hear conversations across a room. Having a mic hooked up to it and routed through my phone would be handy.”
“You could use a simple voice stress analysis app to detect when people might be lying to you. Not to say that is a hard science, but I’m sure it could come in handy at the poker table or to pre-screen business clients. I have a contact mic that allows you to hear through walls. That might be my next implant actually.”
He also plans to give himself a kind of bat-like echolocation ability by rigging it up to an ultrasonic range finder — as objects get closer, the in-ear hum builds, and as they move away it gets quieter. This makes a lot of sense for Lee, because he knows he will soon become legally blind.
“I’d love to hook a geiger counter up to it and experience the world of radiation,” he writes. “Living near the old Nevada nuclear testing grounds provides a lot of opportunity for this. I wouldn’t mind finding some yellow cake uranium while on a hike because that stuff is expensive. Hearing a gentle hiss around warm objects might be a novel way to experience the thermal realm. The implant is going to allow for a lot of new senses.”
It’s still very much untested though, and the sounds he experiences are altered by other factors, like if he’s got his finger in his ear or not. It is also incredibly important that he doesn’t walk near any unexpectedly powerful magnets.