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DIY Headphone Implant

This idea was completely inspired by @Saumanahaii ‘s thread here:

 

First, the idea is based on this:
The project is set up like this:
1. implant magnets
2. test implants with coil to make sure audio is picked up
3. implant coil/other parts w/transdermal jack & power charger
Having stuff like this done isn’t really the realm of doctors. Most Grinders rely on body modification artists to install their implants. I’ve had work done by the body modification master Steve Haworth in the past and have relied on him for advice on several project ideas. Steve instinctively knew the best way to go about the implantation in a way that would minimize chances for infection and would leave no scarring. The implant procedure itself went very smoothly and the pain was surprisingly minimal.

The first thing everyone asks is “why would you do this?” Honestly, I don’t feel the need to answer this question. People either get it or they don’t. I’m a Grinder, and we are notorious for getting it.

The second question is usually “what are you going to do with it?”

Listening to music is nice and probably the most obvious answer, but I intend to do some very creative things with it. The implant itself is completely undetectable to the naked eye. The device & coil necklace are are easily concealed under my shirt so nobody can really see it. I can see myself using it with the gps on my smartphone to navigate city streets on foot. I plan to hook it up to a directional mic of some sort (possibly disguised as a shirt button or something) so I can hear conversations across a room. Having a mic hooked up to it and routed through my phone would be handy. You could use a simple voice stress analysis app to detect when people might be lying to you. Not to say that is a hard science, but I’m sure it could come in handy at the poker table or to pre-screen business clients. I have a contact mic that allows you to hear through walls. That might be my next implant actually.

I plan to hook this thing up to an ultrasonic rangefinder so that hums can be heard when objects get closer or further away. This will basically give you a sense of echolocation like a bat has. This could be really handy for blind people (many of whom use echolocation for navigation) since it will be audible only to them and doesn’t require making clicking noises with your mouth or using some other manual noisemaker. Echolocation is something I want to start practicing with now because I might be legally blind soon. I lost much of vision in my right eye overnight a few years back. I just woke up and couldn’t see well up close or far away. My other eye has compensated for the vision loss but the doc says the good eye can go at any time and when it does it will be very rapid. I’ll lose my drivers license, won’t be able to read, and glasses won’t correct the problem. Making money will be harder. A cornea transplant will be my only option and that is a bit out of my budget at the moment. So I figure learning to navigate with echolocation is a good thing to develop now, not that I’ve resigned myself to blindness or anything.

Beyond that, I’d love to hook a geiger counter up to it and experience the world or radiation. Living near the old Nevada nuclear testing grounds provides a lot of opportunity for this. I wouldn’t mind finding some yellow cake uranium while on a hike because that stuff is expensive. 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. Plugging new sensors into the jack will allow me to experience a lot of the world that is normally invisible. Well, it still might be invisible but now it will be audible. This new synesthesia of sorts is an exciting way to explore the world and develop new instincts about the way the world works around you.

I still have a lot of experimenting to do and a lot of things to troubleshoot. Several things impact sound quality and volume. First, the closer the coils move toward the implant, the louder the sound becomes. Pressing on my tragus and moving the implant closer to the eardrum likewise increases volume. A future implant will definitely be a coil very close to the existing implant. This should reduce my power consumption (I think). I’m also considering adding more magnets in other parts of the outer ear to see if that enhances the effects. It should. Bluetooth will be in a future version as well.

I have a hundred project ideas as well as plans for future implants. I can only do so many at once, but if people are welcome to design and ship me implants if they need a lab rat. I know a lot of hopeful lab rats actually.

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Rich Lee is a Space Gangster, businessman, Grinder, and black hat transhumanist; he promotes tech piracy, biohacking, and committing Grand Theft Future. Contact Rich at megalorich @ gmail .com

111 Comments

  1. Maybe you could hook it up to a noise cancelling device? That would be really useful.

  2. Could the implanted magnets have problems with things like MRIs or metal detectors at airports?

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  4. So what kind of magnets did you use? Were they silicone encapsulated so they wouldn’t be rejected?

  5. Stereo can be achieved by having the magnets in each ear be 90 degrees to each other, and having two coils at an angle to each other too. The coils do not have to be 90 degrees to each other, but that is easiest to get working.

  6. Just a tip. I got new lenses put in in Nicaragua.
    The practice was more modern than in many US Hospitals.
    Cost: $1500 per eye.
    Does this make me a grinder? Next step is to have a display in the lens. Heat might be a problem. Don’t want to cook my eyeballs from the inside out.
    If you need an address let me know

  7. Could be a Serious Thing if you walk past a Ground Level Transformer (or welding machine)

    Talk about Induction!!!

  8. Hi very interesting article.You approached to my dream.I had a light stroke,then had a problem close to 、Hypothalamus.
    So I need some signal from 、Hypothalamus.
    By analyzing the signal,I may be able to know when to meet with some collision.
    So as you developped,I want to get the signal from 、Hypothalamus

  9. How’s the range of sound on these? Good bass/treble, clarity, etc? I know cochlear implants have range issues (btw, there are some fascinating simulators of that online), do these suffer similar issues?

  10. This is another Star Trek technology made real. Although it was never filmed as written in the script, Capt. Kirk had been informed of V-Ger through communication devise implanted in his head. His receiver had images. I’m sure that technology isn’t far away.

  11. Does anything outside of your control cause noise and/or interference?

    • You mean like my wife and kids?

      Joking. Not yet, but I haven’t been able to explore too much of my environment yet with it. I’m having issues with battery life so my range is limited.

  12. Awesome idea! I have been something like this for a while now. Just never had the thought of building my own. How long does it run, and do you have any pictures or plans of the unit you made?

    • many units are available on ebay and other sites. Searching for “invisible headphones” usually brings them up. The magnets in my ears are different than the magnets sold with the devices. Implanting those ones could kill you since they are not bioproofed. I bought one unit online (since destroyed by testing). I have a new coil that I’m testing now, but it is literally a coil wired to a headphone jack. It’s purpose is to determine power requirements.

  13. Intriguing! I suppose you know that at least one of the cochlear implant companies has been developing an implantable microphone.

    I’m interested to know about the transmission through the cartilage to acoutic-mechanical parts of the hearing system. And what this has done for your hearing sensitivity. Or are you ‘feeling’ sound through the pressure sensors in your tragus?

    • I don’t feel the sound, strangely enough. I have a magnetic finger implant and can feel fields through that. When I hold something with a strong magnetic field close to the implant I can also feel that, but audio is different. It doesn’t cause as much shaking.

      On a related note, when I plug my ear with my finger that has a magnetic implant, I can hear sound coming from inside my fingertip.

  14. Would you consider coupling this implant with an antenna and subvocal mic to make an implanted cellphone

    • Absolutely. In fact, this has been an area I have been very interested in. Initially I was researching ultrasonic speech capabilities employed by some larynx prosthesis. That might still be an option, but recently a friend emailed me about something TI developed in 2008. The tech wasn’t too developed at the time, but I noticed the inventors just issued some new patents for use with it this year. I am excited to see how it turns out. It would be ideal to use with my implant; like telepathy.

  15. I am blown away by this. I am in the process of building a 9v preamp to try a non implanted (perhaps pierced) version with rare earth magets sitting in the conch to get a idea of the quality of it … I would love to discuss this with you if you would spare your time.

    • Absolutely. My email is below.

  16. Just thinking – in terms of finding the best places for bone conduction on the skull, a good way to do this is to hook up a reasonably good small speaker without an enclosure, put on some music and manually press the back of the speaker coil housing against different areas of the skull. The mastoid bone behind the ear and also slightly above the ear as well as the top of the head are good places.

    John

    • I’ve worked quite a bit testing bone conduction with piezo elements. This device doesn’t use bone conduction exactly, but if I did do a bone conduction project in the future I would use those spots for sure. Teeth are another good spot. Thanks!

  17. Hey Rich – superb idea. I’m profoundly deaf so this might be of some use to me. Thanks for putting this online.

  18. You’re a pioneer, for real. Congrats on the successful procedure!

  19. Have you researched the legality of using a microphone to surreptitiously listen to conversations across the room or through walls? Same with stress analysis software, can this be used without getting consent? Way cool grind/hack but be careful, that gentle hiss could be hot water you are about to get into.

    • I live in the US where apparently it is legal for things like PRISM to exist, so I just kind of figured there is probably a loophole in the law for this sort of thing somewhere.

      • First step towards the microsofts and augmentations dangling from people’s temples like in Neuromancer!

        You’re the man.

  20. Do you have any photos from the procedure itself? I’d like to see the process.

    • I don’t, unfortunately. The above ear pic was taken the day I took out my stitches. You can still kind of see the pink incision area on the ridge of the tragus. The implant was placed on the outside of the tragus rather than inside due to the amount of available skin. This photo was taken slightly behind my head actually.

      Besides Steve Haworth, 3 other artists were in attendance, 2 of which were assisting. They probably had a better view of the action. If you need more procedure info you might have to track down Steve or one of the attendees.