Daniil Lytkin, a 26-year-old programmer from Novosibirsk, Russia, recently made news headlines for having a compass-like device implanted on his chest. Called “North Sense”, the wearable sensor vibrates whenever the wearer turns north.
The young bodyhacker says that he stumbled across the North Sense project when it was still being developed by a UK company called Cyborg Nest. He thought having a sensor that lets you know which way is north attached to his body was a cool idea, so he pre-ordered the device for $250, and last week he became the first person in Russia, and one of the first in the world to have it implanted. The procedure was carried out by piercing artist Eugene Dyakov, on May 11, and involved the insertion of two specially designed titanium bars under the skin on Daniil’s chest, to which the North Sense device is attached with screws.
Photo: Cyborg Nest
“The North Sense provides the ability to sense the magnetic field of the planet. Knowing where north is has had great significance for humans across cultures such as the Feng Shui, Religions, Yoga, the Native Americans and any other corner of our history,” the Cyborg Nest website states. “This is about experiencing your physical orientation, experiencing the electromagnetic field of the planet, not just being aware of it.”
Daniil himself admits that it wasn’t the feature itself that made him want to get North Sense implanted on his chest, but the idea of enhancing his natural senses with the help of technology.
Photo: Eugene Dyakov
“I just thought it was cool,” he told NGS Novosti. “If you think about it, the idea is associated with concepts like transhumanism and cyborgs. It wasn’t its practical purpose (navigation) that interested me, but I have always been fascinated by the idea of expanding one’s natural features. Devices like this allow a person to experience a fraction of the things going on around them.”
Lytkin goes on to provide examples of extraordinary features from the animal world, like the mantis shrimp’s extraordinary UV vision, or dogs’ amazing sense of smell, saying that through technology, man can experience the beauty of the surrounding world in all sorts of incredible ways, which would not otherwise be possible.
Photo: Daniil Lytkin/VK.com
North Sense is waterproof, thanks to a silicone casing, but needs to be recharged periodically. The built-in battery only lasts for a day or two, depending on how often the user turns north and the intensity of the vibration, which can be adjusted via an app. Luckily, the device can be detached from the body and recharged.
The first people to have North Sense implanted on their bodies were Cyborg Nest co-founders Liviu Babitz and Scott Cohen, who had them attached in 2016. However, the device became commercially available in February 2017, when the first units were shipped to early backers. Victor Perez Rul, a biohacker from Mexico, had his implanted in April. Daniil Lytkin is believed to be the first “cyborg” in Russia to have the compass-like sensor attached to his body.
Photo: Cyborg Nest
If having a digital compass implanted on your body sounds appealing, you can buy the North Sense device for $425, from Cyborg Nest.
Biohacking is becoming a popular trend in our technology-dominated world. Four years ago, we wrote about Rich Lee, a body-enhancement enthusiast, who had a small magnet headphone implanted directly into his ear. Then there was “cyborg artist” Moon Ribas, who had a sensor grafted under her skin which allows her to feel whenever an earthquake occurs anywhere around the world, and the growing group of biohackers impanting LED lights under their skin.
But perhaps the most impressive case of biohacking we ever featured was that of Neil Harbisson, a color blind artist who had an antenna implanted in his head so he could hear colors.