Monday, March 10, 2008

It begins

When a futurist-in-training friend of mine, Craig, first told me about Jesse Jarrell and Steve Haworth and their magnetic implants I thought it was novel and interesting, but silly. Craig then told me that it gave them a sixth sense - the ability to sense magnetic fields.

Since that time I have been seeking my own magnetic implant.

The process itself is quite straightforward: coat a tiny-but-powerful neodymium magnet in a biocompatible material and implant it in the finger. After healing, the concentration of nerves in the fingertip will provide a near direct interface to the magnet, which will twitch and vibrate in response to changing magnetic fields.

The implant has gotten some mainstream exposure through a Wired magazine article,
which created a large demand for the experimental procedure. However, the pioneers of the procedure unanimously agree that the implant is not ready for the mainstream. The fact that most (if not all) of the original implant recipients experienced complications and widespread implant removal confirms this fact. (ed: according to an email from Jesse Jarrel, these failures were mainly seen in the dip-coated magnets. The injection mold magnets seem to have held up just fine to this day.)

The main problem, it seems, is with the silicon coating used to isolate the magnet from the body's defenses. The soft coating is easily compromised, leading to exposure of the nickel or gold plated neodymium. The magnet breaks down and is rejected by the body.

The artists who pioneered this implant all agree that it is an amazing mod that warrants further research.

As of late, there has been no progress - or at least progress which has been published. My guess is that those who have the implants are hesitant to experiment further, and for good reason. The process of having an implant installed without anesthetic to a nerve-rich area is very VERY uncomfortable. Without a change in approach, implant failure is bound to happen again, necessitating removal - which is probably more uncomfortable than having it installed.

Discomfort aside, the emotional stress of gaining a new amazing ability only to have it disappear must be very difficult.

The missing piece of the puzzle for a successful implant is a coating suitable for permanent implantation. This is where I am focusing now: finding a suitable coating. I already have a pretty good idea of how it will be done.

I'm driven to find a way to make this work.

I'm educated as an electrical engineer, which has given me insight to the unseen workings of the universe. I often imagine what EM fields would look like if I could see them, and this could be the chance to actually feel them.

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