If you find headphones uncomfortable, or if you’re sick of always having to untangle their wires, you might want to take a cue from Rich Lee, a body-enhancement enthusiast who recently implanted a small magnet headphone directly into his ear.
Rich Lee is what’s known as a “bodyhacker” or “grinder”, a person who experiments with surgical implants or technological body-enhancements in order to expand human capacities. He was recently featured on Humanity+, a technology and science-focused magazine, for a unique type of implant. Lee had a small magnet embedded into his tragus, the small piece of cartilage directly outside the ear, and built a coil to be worn around the neck, which “creates a magnetic field causing the implant to vibrate and produce sound”. The audio quality is nowhere near as good as what you get from regular earbuds or headphones, but his system does have a series of advantages. He can listen to music anytime and anywhere he wants, and since the implant is invisible to the naked eye, he can do some pretty creative things with it. For example, he plans to hook it up to a directional microphone so he can hear what people around him are saying, and he argues it could come in-handy at a poker table or with pre-screen business clients.
Rich lost most of the vision in his right eye overnight a few years back, and doctors told him his other one might go any day, and when it does it will be very rapid. He plans to use his implanted headphone to practice echolocation, by hooking it up to an ultrasonic rangefinder so that hums can be heard when objects get closer or further away. It would eliminate the need to make clicking noises with your mouth or using some other manual noisemaker, and it easier for a blind man to navigate his way around. The possibilities are endless, as connecting the embedded headphone to various sensors, will allow him “to experience a lot of the world that is normally invisible”. Ultrasonic rangefinders, thermometers, and even geiger counters for radiation are just some of the tools he plans to experiment with.
The bodyhacker says the first question everyone asks is “why would you do that?” “Honestly, I don’t feel the need to answer this question,” he says. “People either get it or they don’t. I’m a Grinder, and we are notorious for getting it.” For now, he plans on tweaking the implant and coil for improved audio quality by either adding more magnets in other parts of the outer ear or moving the coil closer to the ear, but he is open to new designs as well. “People are welcome to design and ship me implants if they need a lab rat,” Rich says.
via Huffington Post