Rich Lee might not be the Six Million Dollar Man quite yet, but with a little medical tinkering, he could be well on his way. That’s because recently, he had a microphone surgically implanted in his ear. OK, technically, it’s not a headphone, but it acts like one. In truth, it’s a magnet that Lee uses in conjunction with a homemade necklace-like coil he wears that creates a magnetic field, causing the implant to vibrate and produce sound that funnels directly into the ear.
Because doctors tend to frown on this sort of thing (go figure), he had a “body modification artist” install the device in his tragus, i.e., that little nub of cartilage protecting your ear canal. Although this specific body mod might be unique, there are a lot of people, nicknamed “grinders,” who make a hobby of turning themselves into cyborgs piece by piece, creating do-it-yourself body enhancements like something out of a sci fi movie.
You’d think the main reason someone would have a medical procedure like Lee’s performed is to listen to music wherever and whenever he or she wanted, and while he does intend to do that, he actually has bolder plans. And a lot of them. Here are some practical uses he envisions:
- Using it with the GPS on his smartphone to help him find his way walking around the city
- Connecting it to a directional microphone so he can hear conversations across a room
- Connecting it to a microphone hooked up to a smartphone with a voice stress analysis app to detect when people are lying
- Connecting it to an ultrasonic rangefinder that hums when objects get closer or further away, like sonar for the sight-impaired (which Lee is)
- Connecting it to a Geiger counter to detect radiation
- Connecting various sensors to allow him to experience invisible phenomena in the world in an audible format, like a sixth sense
It’s a little weird, for sure, but I have to say it makes more sense than the guy who got a magnet implanted in his finger.
(Sources: Gizmodo, H+ Magazine)