In 1923, British geneticist J. B. S. Haldane predicted that by applying advanced science to human biology, we would be greatly improving the human condition. Thus was the laid the foundation of a concept called transhumanism.
To advance human intellect, physical capabilities and psychological capacities, we have relied on specific diets, exercise regimens, nutritional supplements and meditative techniques that are scientifically proven to improve our minds and bodies. However, for some people, that’s not enough. Some desire to merge technology and biology to take the next step forward in evolution.
Being led by companies like Grindhouse Wetware, biohackers are implanting hardware into the human body to enhance their capabilities and connectivity. Known as Grinders, they are quickly becoming one with the Internet of Things.
Currently, the implantable options are fairly limited, but they do hold some promise as to the future of this biotechnology.
The most common implant is an RFID chip. Produced by companies like Dangerous Things, the chip is implanted in the fatty tissue area of the hand between the thumb and forefinger and is used more for convenience than anything else at the moment. Once implanted, systems can be programmed to recognize the unique ID (UID) within the chip, allowing users to unlock or open doors with RFID scanners. Users can also program their android phones or computers to recognize their implant and unlock or perform simple tasks.
Another popular biohack is the implant of rare earth magnets into the fingertips. This gives Grinders the ability to perceive the electromagnetic spectrum through vibrations, giving what many of them consider a sixth sense. While not directly connected to the IoT, future possibilities through near-field magnetic induction creates greater opportunities for data storage and transmission. Just imagine checking out at a store and tapping your finger on a pad to complete your transaction.
While the RFID and magnet implant could do improve our day-to-day lives, implantable biometric scanners could actually help save a life. While not considered a true medical device, the Circadia from Grindhouse Wetware can track body temperature and pulse and can send the data to your computer or other wifi-enabled device via Bluetooth. The device, which is about the size of a credit card but much thicker, can provide the user with weeks or months of aggregated information, giving a much better view of the user’s health. More sophisticated bioware could one day monitor blood/sugar levels, white blood cell counts or other telling biometrics, providing warnings to the user or giving physicians a more informed overview of a patient’s health.
Unfortunately, battery life, implant size and limited application are hindering the biohacking movement. However, once these obstacles are resolved, the only thing stopping implants like these from entering the mainstream is the public’s awareness and acceptance of them. And then you, too, may soon find yourself connected directly to the Internet of Things.