Biohackers are always looking for new ways to enhance their bodies with an implantable device, even if it’s for aesthetic purposes only. Inspired by bioluminescent organisms, the DIY biohackers at Grindhouse Wetware have unveiled their latest creation — a magnetically activated, LED-equipped silicone implant.
The device is made up of a printed circuit board with five red Surface-Mounted-Device Light-Emitting Diodes (SMD LEDs) that become activated for 10 seconds whenever a magnet is placed near the included sensor. It is coated in silicone and powered by a 3 volt battery.Once implanted and activated, the Northstar device can backlight existing tattoos or mimic bioluminescence. When a magnet is placed on the device, its five LED lights start to blink. After ten seconds, it goes back into sleep mode. The Grindhouse guys think it’ll light up about 10,000 times before the batteries die out and can no longer be recharged. Once this happens the device will have to be surgically removed.
Because such augmenting operations violate the Hippocratic Oath, some biohackers carry out research and perform them themselves, while other rely on professional body modification artists, like Jowan Österlund. He recently implanted the Northstar V1 in the hands of three biohacking enthusiasts at a recent Cyborg Fair, in, Dusseldorf, Germany.
He shaved and disinfected the men’s arms before making a small incision in the skin of their hands, inserting the chip and sewing up the skin.
One of the men who got the Northstar V1 implanted was Tim Cannon, founder of Grindhouse Wetwear, the Pittsburgh company that came up with the device. Two years ago, he had a device about the size of a cigarette pack implanted under the skin of his arm. Called Circadia, it was designed to record data from his body and transfer the data to any Android-powered mobile device. Many people had apparently become excited about the Circadia’s LED lights shining from beneath Tim’s skin and wanted their own.
Many people who saw the lights were very excited. They have been waiting years for something like this. They asked for them to be made available. We obliged. So, yes, this version of Northstar simply lights up,” Canon said.
You know, people from the biohacking community wanted it. They contacted us because they wanted to light up their tattoos. That’s how we generate our implants, we let the community inspire us.”
For the moment, the device is limited to LED lighting, but Grindhouse Wetwear, hopes to upgrade its functionality, allowing wearers to control various devices using gestures.
Northstar V1, much like piercings and cosmetic surgeries, is purely for aesthetic purposes. It is a simple device that will prove the possibility of implanting technology in the body and will pave the way for more advanced and functional augmentations,” the company said in a press statement.
According to Grindhouse Wetwear, Northstar Version 2 will be a “rechargeable device that adds gesture recognition and Bluetooth capabilities, enabling users to control electronic devices with hand movements, as well as add patterns or color variations to LED.”