TECH

DIY Ear Implant For 'Grinder' Rich Lee Could Open Up New World Of Human Senses

27/06/2013 10:16 BST

An American man has implanted a pair of homemade headphones into his ear.

Rich Lee has become the first person to surgically insert a magnet into his tragus, the hard bit of flesh in front of the ear canal.

A coil device which he wears around his neck creates a magnetic field causing the implant to vibrate and create sound.

earbud implant

The implant and scarring are minimal

The really cool thing about the implant is its potential uses go far beyond just listening to music or cheating in exams.

Lee has very poor vision in one eye and has been told he may lose his other at any time. Rather than just accept his fate he plans to hook the implant up to an ultrasonic rangefinder which will give him "a sense of echolocation like a bat has". He also fancies connecting it to a geiger counter.

earbud implant

Rich Lee and the coil device worn around his neck

Writing on Humanity+, he said: "I’d love to... experience the world or radiation.

"Living near the old Nevada nuclear testing grounds provides a lot of opportunity for this.

"Hearing a gentle hiss around warm objects might be a novel way to experience the thermal realm. The implant is going to allow for a lot of new senses."

DIY 'biohacking' has been rising in prominence over the last couple of years with a number of groups and individuals extolling the virtues of augmenting human experience with implanted technology.

'Grinders' as they are called, use things like magnets and radio-frequency identification chips to gain or enhance senses.

One American tattoo artist even implanted four magnets in his arm to hold his iPad Nano.