Monday, September 18, 2006

Cyborgs among us

Cat and I had company over the weekend. Our friend Christian came to visit us from New Orleans. Christian's a diabetic, and recently got into a car accident. I don't have the full story, as he had blacked out due to low blood sugar. The important thing is that he managed to total his car and doesn't know how. The first thing he remembers is being stopped by the cops, who pointed out that he was missing most of the passenger side of his car and driving on a rim instead of a tire. After that episode, he became a cyborg.

His new insulin pump is about the size of a late-90s cell phone (or a fat Blackberry) and connects to him via flexible tubing and a catheter; it is a semi-permanent port into his body through which a machine dispenses hormones. It's a small adhesive patch, sort of like the EEG electrodes you see on hospital drama shows or low/mid-budget scifi flicks. I didn't snap any photos, but Google Images will come to the rescue for the curious. Not quite the chainsaw-wielding menace you expect from a cyborg, but I'll take my cyberpunk where I can get it.

The practical upshot is that we're one step closer to mechanically replacing another failed organ, which is a good thing. We should be able to just grow what we need. Write your congressthing, will you?

Coincidentally, Judson and I were talking about other kinds of mechanical self improvement. He's gung ho to get some implanted headphones. Bone-conduction hearing aids are already a reality, and this non-hearing-impaired fellow from Hawaii is a bit more serious about it, as of last year. A gadget site picked up the story, so you might want to check out their cross-section illustration. For complete coverage, don't forget to take a peek at the Wikipedia article on the device itself, the Baha.

Be advised: These next links contain some graphic pictures of outpatient surgery. So if you don't like seeing blood, don't clicky.

If simply augmenting your existing senses aren't good enough, some body modification enthusiasts had implanted small rare earth magnets under their fingertips to extend their sensory perception. Then another person got magnets in their fingertips. Ultimately, this procedure is not without its problems and they needed to be removed.

I like the notion of becoming superhuman, but I'll wait for the over-the-counter version.

1 comment:

catzmiyow said...

I totally want implanted headphones.

And the magnet thing sounds awesome, but I think I'll hold off until they've figured out a way for the magents to not disintigrate inside you.