Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Video: Playing with the G1's onboard compass

My last G1 related post, I promise. :) I made a quick video of me playing with the compass hardware on the T-mobile G1 Android phone. The application you see is called Orienteer, and is available for free.



As you can see, the North needle points to my finger, meaning that the South pole of my implant faces out from my fingertip. Neat!

Monday, November 24, 2008

G1: my Google phone tells me when it's transmitting

I was an early adopter of the G1, and since the day I began using it I noticed a dim pulsing sensation through my implant while holding the phone a certain way. This morning I finally got the location down, and was able to produce the phenomena repeatably by sending messages, web browsing and panning around on Google maps.

The little yellow dot shows the approximate location of my implant, and the red circle shows where the sensations are strongest.

To be honest, I have no idea what is causing a pulsing magnetic field during data transmission. The antenna is in close proximity, but the sensations directly over it are much less pronounced than other areas. Also, transmitting antennas produce electromagnetic waves (which don't wiggle magnets) - not magnetic fields. Perhaps the EM is inducing a magnetic field in the nearby speaker (directly above the red region in the picture.) Regardless, it's kind of cool to feel the 'packets' or 'data bursts' or whatever and seeing how the little send/receive display syncs up with what's actually going on.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Welding


While working on a frame for the arcade machine, I noticed that I could not only feel the transformer inside the main unit from quite a distance, but also felt through the MIG gun itself. Depending on how well I was laying the bead, the sensation intensified and changed. This is the first good example I have come across for an implant giving an occupational advantage: a welder could use their magnetic sense to give them information about the quality of their weld. With practice, I'm certain I could use the sense to help adjust the heat and wire feed speed to an ideal setting and tell if the bead was laying smoothly.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The sensations become a sense

In the past few months I have made a sort of transition. At first, the sensations I felt were foreign and new. I would feel a buzz from a dc adapter and think "woah! It buzzes!" As of late, though, I have found that I increasingly recognize specific sensations, and can feel subtle variations. This transition has been like the difference between feeling a surface with latex gloves, then with bare skin: I can feel the texture of a field. The field from the power supply inside my alarm clock feels smooth and clean. The DC adapter for my electric razor feels gritty. I found a long lost hard drive magnet under the couch without ever seeing or touching it... I sensed it, even knew which pole was facing my finger!

While technically this ability is an extension of touch, the human perception makes it more than that. A magnetic implant gives the human body the ability to detect and quantify what would otherwise be intangible. Truly, it is a sixth sense.

P.S. - I will be providing implantable magnets soon. Email me if you are interested.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Finger is better, way to go Parylene coating!

My smashed finger injury has gotten much, much better. The area doesn't feel quite back to normal, but has the familiar "almost healed" feeling to it. It appears the implant survived a pretty hard test, which is one more victory for Parylene coating.

I have gotten several e-mails asking about where to get the magnets or if I would sell them. I honestly don't know if I'm ready to hand them to just anyone, but at the same time I recognize that others are just as willing as I was to have one put in. It's likely that I will start an eBay store and sell packs of 4 or 5 magnets for close to cost. Before I do, I'll get a pictorial of how mine were installed and a general set of guidelines for handling, sterilizing them, and examining them for flaws.

I will say this, though I have said it before. This is a very experimental procedure in which you are implanting an object in to yourself that could potentially be harmful. These magnets are not designed originally for implantation. While you can take every precaution to handle and install them correctly, there is a definite possibility of a compromised coating, and you may be forced to remove fragments of magnet from your finger, or worse. These are risks that myself and the others that have tried have understood from the beginning.

That being said, I think that this is a body modification that has been on the verge of explosion for quite awhile. Purpose-made parylene coated magnets and implantation tools could make this procedure accessible to many, and just may encourage others to find ways to give humans more sensory perception through body modification.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Smashed finger

It was bound to happen eventually. I'm generally a hands-on person, and as such often find myself working with power tools, in tight engine compartments, etc. I figured that eventually I would accidentally stress the implant while bending metal or opening a stuck valve... it finally happened unexpectedly while tapping a keg of beer.

I have a small "keggerator" (a self contained beer chilling and dispensing device) that I am in the process of transforming into a MAME cabinet. While connecting a newly purchased 5 gallon keg of Fat Tire I rotated the keg tap and quickly pushed it down - in order to prevent the pressurized spray of beverage that escapes if you do it too slowly. In what would be a "worst case" scenario, the tip of my right ring finger was pinched between the handle and the keg edge, rotating and crushing it.

Immediately I knew that I had disturbed the implant. My finger throbbed as I prodded the area gently. A small circular area of red appeared near the magnet, like a pocket of blood beneath the surface. I knew that there was nothing I could do about the injury, so I waited. After a few days the implant seems like it has re-healed. It's a bit tender to the touch but full sensitivity has returned. Only time will tell if the Parylene coating was compromised, but at this point it seems just fine. I'm quite certain that had I opted for a silicone dipped implant, it would have met its demise.

It's still too early for me to condone going out and implanting Parylene coated magnets into people's fingers, but if the implant survives incidents like this one I can see this becoming very viable, very soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Current carrying wire

During a recent long and particularly boring meeting I was sitting next to a laptop computer which was plugged in to a wall outlet. I used my magnetic sense to explore power supply, which emitted a now familiar buzz from the small transformer inside it. I was quite surprised to also feel a sensation from the power cable as well, a faint vibration but definitely there.

When current flows through a straight conductor, there is a magnetic field encircling it. In the case of a DC current the field is stable and the direction can be determined using the right hand rule.
An illustration of a DC current carrying wire's magnetic field.


AC current, however, produces an oscillating field which can be picked up with the implant. Having explored several power cords, it appears that low current devices (like light bulbs) don't draw enough current to be detectable. Only higher current draw devices produce the faint buzzing sensation. Also, only the hot wire will yield a sensation, as the neutral wire normally carries no current. The cable type itself plays a large part in detectability too. Shielded cable (predictably) is far less likely to produce a detectable field, as is cable that is enclosed in metal conduit.

Pretty cool, nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

2 Months, all is well, sensation has further improved

Two months have gone my since my implant and all is going well. I have had a few incidents where the implant suddenly hurt when gripping/grabbing an item, but the pain does not linger. Usually it's more of a pinching sensation than anything, which makes total sense given its placement and rigidity. I'm fairly careful with the finger in day to day life, but I don't really worry about the implant rupturing as I would if it were coated in silicone.

The implant has continued to become more sensitive. In cases where I previously just felt faint tingles and buzzes, I now sense subtle variations in fields. The coils on my stove, my microwave, innocuous looking items fixed to building walls... they all have an interesting facet that was invisible to me before. Most of the time I seek them out, bringing my implant close to things that may have a detectable field. Other times I'm caught by surprise. While at a WalMart checkout lane, for example. The product I bought had a theft protection tag:

When the device in the register disabled it (it makes a weird springy "bonnng" sound) I felt a sudden vibration from my implant. It honestly took me a few seconds to figure out what had happened as my hand was quite far away. Those things make quite a strong field, no wonder they tell you to keep credit cards off of them!

Permanent magnets are quite interesting too. I have found myself saying "woah, that's a magnet in there" after feeling the sensation when I reach past or over a concealed magnet. Strong magnets produce an unmistakable tug on the implant, of course, though I find it's far easier to detect a pull than a push. Magnets are quite fun to play with, though I'm becoming increasingly aware of the fact that a very strong magnet could pose quite a problem for me.

A close friend of mine, who initially turned me on to the idea of magnet implants, has finally decided to get one himself. I hope his experience is every bit as awesome as mine has been.

Monday, June 9, 2008

5 Weeks later, looking good

It's now been over five weeks since the implant. Everything appears to be going well, as the magnet has not migrated any further. It seems that it did indeed stop where the stitch had originally been placed, indicating that future implantations should be stitched more deeply.

I often find myself maneuvering my finger close to objects to take in any sensations that may be present, rotating my hand unnaturally. Ideally, I would like to use my entire hand hand rather than a single finger. Here's the location of my implant now:

The yellow dot shows the approximate location of my implant.

I think a quite favorable result could be achieved by using 12 total implants, like so:


Using multiple implants on each finger could give much more rich sensation.

At this point, however, I don't think that this is a good idea. Since my first implant has healed at a depth more shallow than I originally intended, it can be felt by pressing on my finger. Certain activities, such as gripping objects or playing foosball (as I discovered), can easily stress and cause pain and injury to the area. While it's not a big deal for a single finger, as I instinctively favor my other fingers now, a full array of these could pose quite a problem during day to day activities. Also, there is the question of polarity and orientation. There are no markings on the magnets to show their orientation (through playing with a compass I determined mine is South side out.) For an effective array, I would think that the magnets should all be oriented in the same way, which could be quite difficult to ensure during the implantation process. Something to start thinking about, at very least.

I'll continue to monitor the existing implant, and perhaps get two or three more in the near future, but a full hand project is still a ways off. On a related note, I'm receiving a set of significantly larger, more powerful, Parylene coated magnetic cylinders. I hope to implant one to see the effects of a more powerful magnet.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rejected? Part two.

The skin has healed, and aside from a bit of redness looks completely normal.

Having just passed the four week mark, it seems like things aren't going so well. The magnet has slowly moved closer and closer to the surface as the tissue inside heals it out. The same coating that makes the implant biocompatible also makes it quite slick to tissue, which is unable to "grab" it. The surface tissue is completely healed, but pressing gently reveals a spot beneath (it turns white, like when I push on my skin and let go.) In the right light, the dark color of the implant can be seen through the skin.
Gently pushing above the implant reveals that it is quite shallow. The darker area is assumed to be the magnet.

The magnet's ability to attract metallic objects has increased dramatically, which also indicates that the implant is getting closer to the surface. This is the critical point though, as the magnet has reached the depth at which the stitch had healed. If the migration stops here, it should be OK. If it continues to push out, however, I will have to remove it. A deeper stitch would be definitely recommended for a later try, as it would cause this critical point to be deeper in the skin as well.

If the implant ends up stabilizing, the migration will be a blessing in disguise. As the magnet has surfaced, my ability to feel minute vibrations has sharpened considerably. For now I will continue letting it be. It is not at all painful or uncomfortable, and still appears to be far enough under the skin to not pose a problem.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Week 3: Microwave ovens, RFID readers and more!

It's been three weeks since the magnet was implanted, and things seem to be going very well. I have experienced a notable increase in sensitivity, and have been searching for things to feel with my new sense. I find that with each passing day I can pick up weaker and more subtle fields, and I'm continually surprised by the increasing sensitivity of the implant. Here are some items that I found produce distinct sensations:

Transformers and fluorescent light ballasts - These were the first items I could sense, and produce an even more vivid sensation than before. Passing my finger nearby results in a distinct buzzing vibration. By grabbing at the invisible field I can visualize its shape, more intense in places, less in others.


Microwave ovens - passing my hand near the running magnetron gives me a unique sensation, though it's not as intense (at least not right now) as I thought it would be. Perhaps my microwave is just very well shielded.


RFID readers - My coworkers must think that I'm crazy. I was pawing curiously at our RFID badge readers and found a weak but interesting sensation. The field itself is more complex than that of a transformer and seems to change shape and intensity over time. It's a weaker field, so I have to concentrate to find it. ***EDIT: Later exploration revealed that I actually cannot feel these devices. It makes sense, too, given the nature of their operation.***
Brushless fans - the tiny cooling fan of my eeePC is quite noticeable. It's very intense near the center and has a very different frequency than the standard 60 hz that I am becoming familiar with in my daily environment.

I can find the power supply in my LCD monitor by feel, and my roommate's sonicare toothbrush (not surprisingly) is quite intense. I feel I have just scratched the surface of the sensory capabilities of this implant and can't wait to find new, interesting things to feel!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Two week report: entry cut is healed.

After two weeks of pampering my implant entry wound, I figured it was time to pull the band-aid off. Up to this point I had kept it loosely covered, changing the bandage as necessary and treating with Neosporin. At first glance it looked as if the wound had yet to heal. The area around the entry cut had turned white and it looked like a popped blister, for lack of a better comparison. I was afraid that the magnet was once again rejecting and working itself out of my finger. After a quick shower and a gentle scrub, however, the layer of dead white skin came off and revealed that the entry wound had completely closed up.

Implant entry point after 15 days, up close and under direct LED light. The camera makes it look a lot worse than it actually is.

The second attempt is officially more successful than the first attempt which, as you may recall, failed at week 3 when the magnet came out like a splinter. In the picture above, you see the freshly healed layer of skin where the incision was made, surrounded by dry, cracked skin (I don't exactly moisturize regularly...) The photo makes the area look quite ragged, but it's the same effect you get when you examine your skin with a magnifying glass: what's normal and healthy to your eyes looks rough and gross up close. In fact, the site of the first rejected implant is noticeably lumpier and has been slower to heal than the now healed implant site.

Under normal light, the cut is barely noticeable. The speckles in the background are magnets being inspected for flaws.

At the time of writing, the area is no longer painful in any way. Full sensitivity has returned to the region and I can grab, touch, poke, and submerge with no problems. The implant is not at all visible, and can't be readily found by touch.

The next few months will tell for sure if the tiny Parylene coated magnet was indeed suitable for long term implantation. As for now I'm just happy to not be wearing a Neosporin treated bandaid... though it was nice to have an excuse to wear these bad boys at the office:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stitch is out

It's been a little over a week since the second attempt magnet implantation. After examining the healing wound, we removed the stitch.

While the photograph makes it look very irritated, the cut seems to be healing nicely.

Now I just have to heal what amounts to a small cut. While I'm not "out of the woods" on this one (the first attempt also appeared to be healing well before ultimately being rejected,) it does appear much healthier than the first. The hard part will be avoiding absentmindedly playing with the wound. With the stitch in, it was painful to anything more than the lightest of touches, which kept me from messing with it. Now that I can touch it again I find myself rubbing, playing with the band-aid, etc. which is definitely NOT helping the healing process.

I have started to get sensations around stronger fields again. I can once again sense the buzz of AC adapters and electric toothbrushes. Magnetic attraction is much weaker though, presumably due to the deeper placement of the magnet. With the last placement I could easily pick up a large paper clip, but this implant is barely able to lift a small paper clip. This does not bother me at all, as the implant is for sensory enhancement rather than utility.

Things look good for now, and in the next few weeks I should know for sure if the implant has taken.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Implant #2

After receiving a shipment of Parylene coated magnets, I once again had one implanted. After some discussion, we decided to try a slightly different approach. We theorized what went wrong and adjusted the implantation method to better the chances of a successful healing. I made a nifty diagram to illustrate:
Note: The bevel of the needle in the diagram on the right is not in the proper orientation. It was actually rotated 90 degrees so that the pointy long side was facing my fingernail.

The first time, which ultimately ended up rejecting, is on the left. The needle was inserted as shown, making a pocket close to the surface. As the wound healed the magnet was pushed out with the help of gravity and the lubricity of Parylene.

This time we went straight into the side, deeper into the tissue with no angle to the cut. There was more bleeding this time, which made the magnet a bit tricky to get inside. The suture was probably the most uncomfortable part of the procedure (the black squiggle I drew on the diagram), but I really think it's the key to getting this implant healed properly.

I've now started the healing process once again, and am being extra careful not to stress the area or expose it to any strong magnetic fields. With any luck everything will go smoothly and I will be feeling fields in no time!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rejected.

Exactly three weeks after implantation, the Parylene coated magnet emerged from my finger. I have several theories as to why the implantation process failed, but will first describe the events of the past week.

Last Saturday I made an entry describing what I saw could be beginning of the end. The small cut on the surface of my finger still had not healed, and exploratory poking revealed an unhealed pocket and what looked like the tip of the magnet. I used a band-aid to keep the wound covered and treated it with Neosporin. Things seemed to be going OK, but at the same time it was not healing as I'd hoped.

A week later, I took the bandage off for several hours and the events that had happened the previous week repeated themselves. The area around the magnet puffed up and a small discharge came through the cut. This time the discharge was yellowish - a sign that things weren't going well at all. It was at this point that I decided to remove the magnet.

After 3 weeks, the dark colored magnet could be seen from the original insertion point.

Squeezing just underneath the puffy tissue caused the magnet to peek out of the hole. I used another small magnet to pull on it and the implant loosely moved, held back by a small amount of transparent tissue. I used a sterile razor to make a small incision, which I did not feel at all. The magnet popped out easily at this point, followed by a tiny bit of blood.

After removal, the area was irritated.

My finger was a little bit sore afterwords, but without the magnet beneath the skin it has since healed much more quickly. The magnet itself appears to be completely intact. There was no tissue attached to it nor discoloration. The coating seems to have performed as expected, but due to it's exceptional lubricity the implant moved easily around inside. My theory is that the wound, being a puncture wound in nature, healed from the bottom up, moving the magnet along as it healed. Eventually it was just pushed out like a splinter. I believe the next attempt at implantation should most definitely have a suture. This would cause the surface to heal much more quickly, resulting in a more successful healing process.

The magnet is perfectly intact, and shows no signs of degradation.

It was discouraging to have the magnet come out so long after implantation, but at least it was a painless removal. I'm happy to see that the Parylene coating worked well and think that it is an excellent way to protect an implant. Even the small taste of extrasensory perception has propelled me to continue seeking a stable, long term implant. Additional magnet specimens will be arriving within a few days, so hopefully I will be attempting the procedure again soon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rejected?

It's been a little over two weeks since I had a Parylene coated magnet implanted in my finger.

Over the past few days there have been apparent complications with healing. I'll recap the healing process, and where I think things went wrong: After the initial procedure, I kept the entry wound covered, first with a liquid bandage, then a bandaid. After the wound decreased in size and scabbed I stopped dressing it and continued in my day to day life. Healing seemed to be going well until a circular area surrounding the magnet became raised and "poofy." It was not painful or sensitive - in fact, the area largely lacked sensitivity. It stayed this way for a few days. While showering, I gently pressed on the raised area and a small amount of clear fluid discharged from the previously closed entry wound. The wound became "unglued" revealing that the inside was not healing as I thought. My body seemed to be rejecting the implant.

I gently prodded the area, and could actually see the black edge of the disc through the entry wound. It's possible that exposing the partially healed implant to other fields and metals as well as typing had led to it's distress.

I was faced with a choice: remove the implant and try again with a different installation method, or continue trying to heal. I opted for the latter. I cleaned the now sore-from-poking entry point and wrapped a bandaid relatively tightly around it so that a gentle pressure was applied. My plan was to heal the pocket of separated tissue by using a bandage to keep it pushed together.

After 2 days of keeping slight pressure on it, there is no longer a "puffy" spot and normal feeling has returned to the area. In fact, the area has become more sensitive than it ever has been. The entry wound itself has closed again, and has not discharged any more fluid. As far as I can tell, it's once again on the path to healing. I have resolved to adamantly "leave it the hell alone" until I am certain that it has healed or necessitates removal.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Feeling Fields, not Waves

After writing the previous post it became very clear that the title "Feeling waves" is a bit misleading. In short, I'm not feeling waves at all.

For any sensation to take place, the magnet has to exert force on the tissues surrounding it. This happens when the magnetic field of the magnet inside my finger interacts with another magnetic field (or is attracted to a ferrous surface.)

Iron filings can be used to visualize magnetic field lines.

In the case of power transformers (like the one in my alarm clock) the field oscillates with the voltage, at 60 hertz. Unlike a stationary field, which would repel or attract the implant constantly, the changing field repels then attracts, changing 60 times a second. This makes the magnet vibrate. Stronger fields would mean more pronounced vibration. Higher frequencies would cause faster vibrations.

A sine wave. Like the voltage in a transformer, the magnetic field within it also oscillates.

So I'm not feeling waves, I'm feeling the effects of a sinusoidally changing magnetic field. This also means that I will not be able to feel electromagnetic waves like those emitted by antennas. I won't go into the specifics, as I can't really think of a way to explain it without getting very deep into the theory.

If any of this sparked an interest or left you going "HUH?" Wikipedia has great articles on it all, ranging from magnet basics to Quantum electrodynamics.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The first wave

While I have felt the sensations of stronger magnetic fields, such as other magnets and attraction to ferrous surfaces, until last night I had not felt the effects of an electromagnetic field.

I was adjusting my alarm clock and felt a faint vibration. I explored the space around it and found regions of varying intensity... as if the field was a flowing arc of vibrating air. While it is tough to describe exactly, I would liken the sensation to feeling a loudspeaker's vibration by holding your hand near it, only with no sound or visual feedback. It's kind of eerie feeling something tangible in the air where there was nothing before, but at the same time extremely exciting.

Here's what I think caused the field, and will be the source of many other "in the wild" detectable fields:

My alarm clock, which is a cheap Wal*Mart plug-in unit, has a remarkably noisy AC to DC power supply contained within it. One of the main components of this type of supply is a transformer, which changes 120 V (the stuff from my wall socket) to a more manageable voltage (probably 5 to 9 volts.)

They look something like this:Basically, the transformer converts electrical energy into a changing magnetic field then back to electrical energy. To keep things simple I won't go into further detail (wikipedia explains it a lot better anyway,) but the interesting bit is the flux leakage. See, ideally the magnetic field would be completely contained within the core of the transformer but in reality, transformers partially leak some of the changing magnetic field. This field loops outside through the air and in the case of very inefficient transformers, this flux leakage can be quite significant..




A graphic depicting flux leakage (source: wikipedia).

This kind of leakage is prevalent in our modern environment, and will likely be the source of further discoveries. I have begun exploring things around me in a new light, trying out my new sense.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

One week after installation: xray!

So it's been one week since I received my magnetic implant. Healing has progressed rapidly, and by next week I expect the surface skin to be healed completely. A good friend of mine who happens to be an xray technician hooked me up with some cool images of my finger!

These are top down views, so it's as if you are looking through the back of my hand. The middle image is with my finger rotated 45 degrees and far right image was rotated 90 degrees. Cool! Here are some closeup shots:

This is the top down view of my right ring finger. The tiny 3mm magnet shows up quite well. You can see the faint outline of a small bandage on the outside of my finger. Here is the side view:


Hopefully soon I will be able to feel magnetic fields!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Healing


I figured I would snap a picture to give an idea of the strength of the magnet. It's just powerful enough to suspend a large paperclip (2" long).

The region around the implant continues to heal. Today the area around the magnet is particularly tender, moreso than since the first day. The region immediately surrounding the implant is slightly discolored, almost bruised looking (as opposed to the entire side of the finger being discolored the past few days.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

The implant

So the implant is in, and my finger is healing. I'll take a step back, as I never went in to the size, shape, and appearance of the magnet that I had implanted. The magnet was one of several samples that I received from a scientific supply company, and was designed as a magnetic stir element (a little disc that would be in a test tube on top of a magnetic stirring machine.) The dimensions are roughly 3.5 mm in diameter by .6 mm thick, with a Parylene C coating of about .05 mm.
The magnet on top of a dime.

While it looks like a plain old magnet, it is actually coated with a transparent layer of Parylene C, which acts as a biocompatible barrier that protects the magnet, and in turn my finger. Since the magnets are specifically designed to rotate under influence of other rotating magnets, I think that they are particularly well suited. Additionally, since there is no silicone sheath, there is no soft buffer to dampen vibration between the magnet and the surrounding tissue.

As far as I know I am the first to receive a Parylene coated magnet like this one, so the next few weeks/months will tell if it is viable. Part of me is a tiny bit paranoid that the coating was compromised in shipping, or during implantation. Such defects would not be visible to the naked eye, or most conventional optics. Since I didn't have an electron microscope handy I'll just have to trust that the coating was intact.

As far as healing goes, things appear to be going very well. It's been four days since the implantation and the incision has almost completely healed. The area of skin above the magnet is still slightly discolored, but is no longer painful to the touch. Yesterday I noticed a dull pain in my tendon, extending all the way up my forearm. It quickly subsided and has not returned.

I can't wait until it heals completely!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The procedure

Note: Once again, I will say this is a highly experimental, possibly dangerous procedure with unknown side effects. While Parylene C is biocompatible and used in similar applications, a magnetic laboratory stir disc is far from a surgical grade implant. I would recommend against seeking out this type of implant until it is very clear that it is a viable long-term solution.

Finger 3 days after implantation (the stuff above the cut is the remnant of a New Skin liquid bandage which I used the first day.):
After receiving several sample stir discs I decided it was time to go back to ----- and show them to -----, who would ultimately be doing the procedure. I initially thought that he would want to examine the implants, then schedule a time to come in and do the procedure. We looked at and discussed the various magnets that I had brought, and showed him the one that I intended to have implanted: a 3.7 mm x .7 mm Parylene C coated stir disc. He offered to go forward with the procedure right then and there, and I enthusiastically agreed.

*I have put ----- in place of names until I get the go-ahead... have to respect privacy you know!

He sterilized the coated magnet using a solution (using an autoclave would have destroyed both the coating and the magnet) and laid out the various supplies that would be needed. He walked me through the procedure one more time, then we began.

To give him the best angle for working, I sat, then twisted my arm counterclockwise 3/4 of a turn from palm facing down (imagine making a 'C' with your index finger and thumb flat on the table.) While a bit uncomfortable for me, it also helped me keep perfectly still. The implant was to be located where I had previously decided, on my right ring finger, on the side of the tip.

After a deep breath he inserted a 6 gauge needle deeply enough to make an incision the width of the magnet. (about 3.5 mm). This was the painful part of the procedure and felt, well, like having a needle poked in to my finger. He removed the needle, then pushed the magnet in to the hole (which I barely felt at all) using his finger. He then pushed the implant a bit deeper using the back of a 10 gauge needle. The wound bled a little, but not excessively. He put pressure on it using gauze and the bleeding stopped almost immediately. We had discussed the possibility of using a single suture if necessary, but the bleeding was minimal so we decided not to stitch. (hindsight tells me that a stitch may have been a good idea anyway.) The procedure was done in about one minute.

We discussed aftercare, which turned out to be easy. Unlike a piercing or dermal anchor, we actually want the skin to heal the way it originally was. Given that the wound clotted and closed up almost immediately it would be no worse than healing a small finger injury. He asked me to come in after a day or two to check on healing progress and I headed home.

For about an hour and a half after the procedure it throbbed and ached slightly, but that soon subsided. It remained very tender and sensitive to the touch for the rest of the evening. Curiosity got the better of me and I passed my finger close to the strong magnet on my cell phone (the model I have has a rare earth magnet to hold a sliding mechanism open/closed.) I felt the implant move within my finger, and it was unlike anything I had ever felt.

I spent most of the night with my hand in an elevated position, finger pointed up. I was concerned that if I were not careful the magnet would migrate closer to the entry point - or even worse - emerge from the hole.

After waking up the next day, I cleaned the wound and applied a fresh coating of New Skin. While still slightly sore to the touch, much of the discomfort was gone. I went about a normal day, and bumped/squeezed/grabbed with the healing finger several times accidentally, which resulted in a few moments of sore throbbyness. The area just below the entry point was the most sore, and gentle prodding revealed a slightly harder spot directly underneath it. I was very concerned that the implant had migrated. To verify, I placed a small magnet above my finger, and it stuck to the skin a good distance from the entry wound. Fortunately, the implant had not migrated at all. In the future, I would DEFINITELY recommend using a single suture to close the incision, even if it is not necessary to stop the bleeding. It would serve to provide a barrier to prevent the magnet from emerging if it did end up migrating. I switched from New Skin to a simple band-aid with Neosporin applied to it, changing as necessary.

A magnet attracted to the implant

I'm very anxious to feel the results after my finger has finished healing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The waiting continues...

For the past two weeks I have been waiting on samples of implant candidates to arrive in the mail. One is simply a parylene coated neodymium magnet, like I originally wanted to use. Another is a parylene coated stainless steel magnet, but is not as strong. The Third sample is a machined PTFE (teflon) case - like a hollow tube with a wall in the middle with two parylene coated magnets holding each other inside the case. -This one might be interesting as it provides better resistance to wear than a lone magnet.

After following up, it was obvious that the magnets should have been delivered quite some time ago. A good friend of mine (who also would like to get the implant) jokingly suggested that the envelope was magnetically attached to the side of a mail truck.

I offered to pick up shipping costs to have them expressed, so they should be here in two days or so. I can't wait!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Magnets came in, stir bar sample on the way

Package tracking showed my magnets came in, but were delivered to the wrong address! They went to my old apartment, which luckily was near my workplace. I picked the box up at lunch, and in 2 vials were the two types of magnets I ordered.

In the time following my order to United Nuclear, I found out that most companies simply will not coat magnetized magnets provided by a third party. As such, the magnets that came in are now just for fun. I got 6 x .25" spheres and 50 of the discs I was planning to get coated for implant. With the larger magnet I can make the small disc move and rotate from a considerable distance. Very promising!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spoke with body artist, got an email from an expert, responses from parylene company

After work yesterday I went to a local well-respected tattoo and piercing shop. The body artist was very familiar with the magnet implants. I discussed the new coating technique and he agreed that if I could prove that it was safe for implantation he would do it.

I received a reply from Jesse Jarrel, who had initially given me the idea of parylene coating via his quote in an article awhile back. He did not know of anyone that had used parylene for a magnetic implant, but said that he sends implants to get coated with parylene. He also noted that there are parylene and teflon coated magnetic stir bars for laboratory purposes that could be viable. He also took me up on an offer to send him some coated magnets for him to check out.

After being tipped off by Mr. Jarrel I found a single company that encases rare-earth magnets with layers of teflon AND parylene for the purpose of stirring devices. I contacted them for information, and if the price is right this may be the best option yet!

My only worry is running in to minimum order/lot size as I have with the parylene coating companies. It's a lot like the scene in Batman Begins, where Alfred and Bruce are forced to buy prototype bat-masks by the thousands. To just get one prototype magnetic implant, I may end up with many MANY extras.

Still, all the pieces are coming together and I'm getting very excited!

Planned Experiments

Having read and re-read the personal accounts of people who have lived with magnetic implants, it is very apparent that a variety of things can be sensed with them. It seems to depend on the person more than anything, ranging from 'feeling tingling around power transformers' to 'exploring the field around an object.' (There is a good range of explanations in this article.)

I would like to take it a step further. In addition to my observations of fields in the wild, I would like to conduct experiments using field generating equipment to determine the actual range of frequencies and intensities able to be experienced.

I have access to signal generators, spectrum analyzers, and oscilloscopes along with the expertise of several close friends, so I'm certain we can come up with suitable (and safe) testing methods. Much of the work could be done with an implant unit by itself, but it will really only provide a comparison to feelings experienced by the person with the implant (in this case myself.)

Experimenting will certainly have many benefits:
  • It will allow a fuller range of fields to be experienced. In the US our environment is rich with fields oscillating at 60 hertz, the frequency at which AC power is distributed. This means that the great majority of fields sensed in the wild will be 60 hertz. By using equipment to generate higher and lower frequency fields one could explore the full range and feeling that the implant could offer.
  • It will allow identification of potentially dangerous fields. It is possible that fields of certain frequencies and amplitudes could be dangerous upon exposure. While it is unlikely that such fields will be encountered in the day-to-day world, it will be helpful to know if there are just some things to avoid. For example: An MRI machine's superconducting magnets would certainly rip an implant out of the skin from a considerable distance. Will other types of fields pose threats?
  • It will provide scientific backing to the "sixth sense." By exploring the science behind the phenomena, we can demonstrate mathematically what is happening to the implant under influence from an EM field. This can lead to improvement of the implant shape, strength and orientation. It can also be the first step to catching the interest of a company with means to take the implant to the next level. Would you want one if they were FDA approved?
  • It will be fun! I'm an engineer, this kind of stuff is fun to us!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Coating Hunt Part 3

The magnets from United Nuclear have shipped.

An article by Shannon Larratt mentions an individual who has a custom titanium encapsulated magnet. This could also be a direction to look in to. According to him, the implant has not resulted in complications, but he has reported it losing sensation. He also mentions the purchase of special Syringe used to implant RFID tags into pets, which may be much less invasive than scalpel and pocket implantation method.

As far as Parylene coating services...
Apparently coating a single magnet at a time is not very practical, but magnetized magnets would most certainly stick to each other resulting in an unsuccessful coating. Some have the facilities to produce unmagnetized magnets then coat and magnetize them, others can coat magnetized magnets. Some can't handle magnets at all.

It was suggested at some point by one company to demagnetize, coat, then remagnetize the magnets. A conversation with a coating company today led me to believe that demagnetizing a powerful magnet would permanently damage its structure.

...So that idea is out the window for now.

So far of the companies I have contacted:
Three companies I have contacted have responded with estimates, another has promised one by email.

One company has said they are incapable of doing it.

The rest have not responded to my request for information.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Implant quantity and placement

I'm planning to start with a single implant. Since the coating has never been tried in this application (at least not that I know of) I want to have any failures happen in a single location, rather than multiple ones. As far as placement, I have decided upon the ring finger of my right hand. I decided to do so based on several general ideas:

It cannot be located in a region that experiences frequent pressure or forces. This means the tip of the finger is out, as is the "pad" of the finger. Things such as operating power tools and strongly gripping/pulling/pushing should not put the implant or myself in danger.

It must be located in a region which is has a high concentration of nerves. Since the goal of the procedure is to gain a sixth sense, the location should be as sensitive as possible. Somewhere near the tip of the finger is generally accepted as the best location.

It must not stick out or leave a visible bump. This is not just for the aesthetic considerations. If it sticks out, it is at higher risk for impact and damage, both to the implant and to my finger.

It cannot interfere with the ability to play a guitar. I initially was going to place the implant in my non-dominant hand, my left. However, I play guitar, which involves mashing every part of every finger of the left hand (except the thumb) against the strings, sliding up and down, etc. Additionally, I'm interested if I can affect the sound of the guitar by using the implant to affect the electromagnetic pickups or steel strings.

Coating Hunt Part 2

I have continued to contact companies about Parylene coatings.

I came across a process called ParyLAST, in which the surface is prepared in a different manor, "cold plasma cleaning" or something of the like, then coated with parylene. According to the companies website, the process is much more durable and longlasting than conventional parylene coating procedures. This coating has apparently been extensively tested and is used in numerous FDA approved implant devices.

The local company responded, saying that they do not coat magnets, so scratch that one off the list.

Craig has been researching crush resistance, and has come up with several reports and studies conducted for magnet implants to hold dental work. While the coating was compromised, it was under the forces of chewing, which are the most powerful in the body.

But as Craig put it, "I don't want the thing to shatter at the slightest high five!"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Coating Hunt Part 1

I have ordered magnets from United Nuclear. They are supposedly the most powerful variety available, and I'm pretty sure they are the ones used in the original implant experiments. They are my starting point.

Several companies specialize in Parylene coating and I have contacted a few. I was very pleased when a company wrote back saying they could indeed coat the magnets. As of right now I am working out the details and trying to do it with a limited budget. If I were to ship them magnets to coat, they would charge $500 for a batch. This is a standard "engineering run" price for them. The quote was for 20 magnets at this price, but it's possible to get more in.

If this is the only option, I have no problem investing this money. I thought about selling the remainder of the implant-ready magnets to recover the cost if it does indeed work, but it would be wholly irresponsible on my part to do so. At no point do I want to be known as "that guy selling faulty implants." Instead, I will probably ship them to prominent body artists for examination or further testing.

The company that responded to me also manufactures and magnetizes coated magnets in-house, which may be better and less expensive than shipping them magnets which I purchase. More on this after I get responses from them.

Apparently, coating an already magnetized magnet is more difficult than a non-magnetized one. I can only assume that the coating machine has ferrous components that the magnet would attract and stick to. It can be done, but an unmagnetized part is reportedly much easier to coat.

A local company stated that the magnets would be too difficult to coat while magnetized, but I plan to visit them in person once my magnets come in the mail. An in-person chat with somebody who knows their stuff will be very beneficial.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Making a magnet implantable.

In order to prevent the body from rejecting an implanted magnet, it must be coated with a biocompatible material. In the past, others used implant-grade silicone. The magnet was dipped or the material was applied via a mold, completely encasing the magnet. (see Magnetic Implant: Development and Updates.)

Unfortunately, both the strength of silicone and the method used to apply it resulted in almost all of the implants failing. Silicone proved simply too soft to guarantee containment. In Shannon Laratt's final article about the implants he suggests immediate removal of any silicone coated magnets, as he their eventual failure is inevitable.

Encasing the magnet in Teflon or glass would be an option, but both those methods are currently beyond my means. Titanium or other implant grade metals could also be a possibility. Some of these methods require intense heat, which can demagnetize and damage a magnet.

The most attractive option (to me at least) is a Parylene coating. Parylene is a polymer which is applied in vapor form at room temperatures in a vacuum. Parylene is biocompatible and has been used for years to coat medical devices for implantation.

Right now the plan is to get magnets coated, test them out, and eventually have one implanted.

Reading up

As with ANY body mod, I feel it exceptionally important to become as educated as possible before even considering undergoing the procedure.

Luckily, the first people to undergo the implant procedure documented it and posted for all to see. It's for this reason that I decided to post my experiences in a blog: for others to see my successes and failures, what it was like, and how to improve the process.

The Gift of Magnetic Vision

Shannon Larratt's experiences:
Implantation procedure
Six Month Retrospective
Removal of damaged implants

Others:
Magnetic Implant Development and Updates (3/31/2006)

A short-lived experience

So what's it like having magnetic vision?

Mainstream Media:
A Wired article on the implant (Quinn Norton)
Quinn Norton has her sixth sense removed

It begins

When a futurist-in-training friend of mine, Craig, first told me about Jesse Jarrell and Steve Haworth and their magnetic implants I thought it was novel and interesting, but silly. Craig then told me that it gave them a sixth sense - the ability to sense magnetic fields.

Since that time I have been seeking my own magnetic implant.

The process itself is quite straightforward: coat a tiny-but-powerful neodymium magnet in a biocompatible material and implant it in the finger. After healing, the concentration of nerves in the fingertip will provide a near direct interface to the magnet, which will twitch and vibrate in response to changing magnetic fields.

The implant has gotten some mainstream exposure through a Wired magazine article,
which created a large demand for the experimental procedure. However, the pioneers of the procedure unanimously agree that the implant is not ready for the mainstream. The fact that most (if not all) of the original implant recipients experienced complications and widespread implant removal confirms this fact. (ed: according to an email from Jesse Jarrel, these failures were mainly seen in the dip-coated magnets. The injection mold magnets seem to have held up just fine to this day.)

The main problem, it seems, is with the silicon coating used to isolate the magnet from the body's defenses. The soft coating is easily compromised, leading to exposure of the nickel or gold plated neodymium. The magnet breaks down and is rejected by the body.

The artists who pioneered this implant all agree that it is an amazing mod that warrants further research.

As of late, there has been no progress - or at least progress which has been published. My guess is that those who have the implants are hesitant to experiment further, and for good reason. The process of having an implant installed without anesthetic to a nerve-rich area is very VERY uncomfortable. Without a change in approach, implant failure is bound to happen again, necessitating removal - which is probably more uncomfortable than having it installed.

Discomfort aside, the emotional stress of gaining a new amazing ability only to have it disappear must be very difficult.

The missing piece of the puzzle for a successful implant is a coating suitable for permanent implantation. This is where I am focusing now: finding a suitable coating. I already have a pretty good idea of how it will be done.

I'm driven to find a way to make this work.

I'm educated as an electrical engineer, which has given me insight to the unseen workings of the universe. I often imagine what EM fields would look like if I could see them, and this could be the chance to actually feel them.