Popular Science: 9 Crazy Body Hacks That Give You Superhuman Powers
9 Crazy Body Hacks That Give You Superhuman Powers
Popular Science, September 2015
But don't try these at home. Seriously.
By Bob Parks Posted September 08, 2015
Gamers often perform repetitive tasks to improve their character’s skill set, gain rewards, and advance to new levels. The process is known as grinding: Now, an underground movement has taken up that expression, calling themselves grinders, and they’re trying to gain some of those same superskills—only in real life by hacking their bodies.
To cynics, the upgraded-self movement—aka body hacking—can seem a reckless and narcissistic pursuit. After all, treating your body like a home science kit can have serious consequences (scarring, bleeding, pain on the scale of passing out). Yet tinkering with human hardware is a centuries-old pursuit. Bolting titanium plates onto problem spines has become downright common. Today’s transhumanists take it further. They seek to extend the senses and co-mingle them, allowing themselves to do things like detect Wi-Fi, hear colors, sense magnetic north, and see in the dark. Technology is driving the trend. But so are a few renegade surgeons—operating in an ethical gray area—and a growing number of innovative grinders, all of them hoping to one day push the cyborg off the Comic-Con floor and out onto Main Street.
Meet The Borgs
In 1998, U.K. professor Kevin Warwick became the first person to have a transponder chip implanted under his skin, but only after receiving ethical approval to experiment on himself and enlisting a doctor to assist him. It wasn’t until Seattle-based IT consultant Amal Graafstra had a chip implanted in each hand, in 2005, without seeking approval, that the grinder world found a spark. Graafstra uses the chips to open his home and car doors and to log on to his computer. He also sells them to grinders on his website Dangerous Things. Last year, Graafstra became the first to implant a tiny photovoltaic panel in his forearm to learn how much light traveled through the skin and whether it could power internal sensors such as a heart monitor. Though it generated a mere 50 microamps at 3 volts—about a 400th of the current needed to run an LED—he felt elated, saying, “it proves the value of citizen science.”
This article was originally published in the September 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title “Go Hack Yourself. Not Really.”
Visit the above link and you read about:
- Touch Electromagnetic Fields
- Install Sonar
- Become A Compass
- Get Superhuman Night Vision
- Turn Fingers Into Flash Drives
- Hear Colors
- Shock Your Brain Into Working Better
Rich Lee, a salesman and grinder from St. George, Utah, wanted true wireless headphones. So he implanted a magnet in the small prominence (known as the tragus) in front of each ear. He then hacked his smartphone to send audio into a signal amplifier that relays it to a wired “antenna” necklace around his neck. The necklace creates an electromagnetic field around Lee’s head. And the field induces vibrations in the ear magnets that Lee hears as music. “The sound quality is decent, maybe comparable to a cheap set of ear buds,” Lee says. In one experiment, he connected the necklace to a small microphone attached to his heel, which senses subtle tremors in the ground. “I could detect a jogger coming up behind me on a paved road long before I could even see him,” he says.
Imagine walking down the street, and instead of looking for that little Wi-Fi sticker on the doors of coffee shops, you could hear a hotspot’s presence. London journalist Frank Swain is partially deaf. He wears Starkey Halo hearing aids that link via Bluetooth to his smartphone. Last year, a sound-engineer friend hacked his phone’s software, so now it sends melodies and Geiger-counter-like clicks to his hearing aids when it detects Wi-Fi zones. “I pick up a lot more data than you might think,” Swain says. “Routers give away a lot through the pitch of their digital signals, including the brand, the type of router, the Internet Service Provider, whether high security or low security. I can even home in on their location using stereo.”
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