A future that never came

I realized that my sixth sense was failing when I stopped noticing the magnetic fields of my laptop.

When I asked other panelists about augmenting healthy body parts over lunch that day, most seemed a little exasperated. At one point, I mentioned that I had a finger magnet to Michael Chorost, who got a groundbreaking cochlear implant to restore his hearing. "Don't get a magnet," he sighed, apparently not realizing that I wasn't speaking hypothetically.

The better wearable devices get, the less sense it makes to permanently modify your body. Things like exoskeletons, smart glasses, and external brain-computer interfaces are safer and much easier to upgrade than their implanted counterparts. Plus, you can take them off in inappropriate situations: you won't get stuck trying to swim with a metal limb, for example, or wearing a permanent version of Google Glass to a laid-back dive bar.

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13 Responses:

  1. Joe says:

    The Matrix: Insane Clown Posse

  2. internetimal says:

    The obvious solution is to standardize our marsupial tech pouches.

  3. Rich says:

    "the massive wave of press that magnet implants got in the early ‘10s has ebbed"

    So no, his misapprehensions aren't limited to the scientific.

  4. NT says:

    Just a bump in the road. In the future, the cost of an upgrade surgery every few years is built in to the weekly cloud plan that keeps your implant working.

  5. AoSeaMilk says:

    I've wanted one of these magnets for about ten years, but I never got one because I didn't want to risk issues with playing the violin or guitar. I guess I could get one in my non-dominant hand, but then I would forget it exists.

    • Tristan says:

      I have one on the side of my right ring finger (I'm left handed), and I work with my hands a lot. It's never really gotten in the way or been a problem, but I am reminded of it if I smack the side of that finger on something. I've had it for about five years, and I use it at work a lot (I'm an industrial automation guy).

      • pavel_lishin says:

        What do you use it for?

        • Tristan says:

          I use for for a few things at work:

          Estimating current draw in a wire. I can estimate within about five amps, which is enough for basic troubleshooting.
          Checking if a solenoid, transformer, or maglatch is energized.
          Picking up metal shavings from drilling.
          Checking to see if metal is ferrous.

          And a few other things I can't think of right now. It's one of those things that I just use without thinking about it.

          • David Konerding says:

            I'm unclear how a hand-magnet can be used for estimating current draw. Assume I understand how clamp meters work but can't see how having a magnet in your finger helps.

            • Tristan says:

              While most clamp meters use a coil or Hall sensor to read the EMF caused by current flowing through an AC circuit, the finger magnet physically oscillates at 60Hz, with the amplitude correlating to the amperage. At first, I physically felt my finger vibrating (especially around large transformers) but now I just put my finger near an AC field and just sort of sense it.
              It's hard to describe what it's like after having it for a few years.

              • David Konerding says:

                Oh, it's an electromagnet, not a magnet, then?

                • Acheron says:

                  I can't speak for Tristan's for sure, but I've never heard of an implanted electromagnet, that would require a power source.

                  The small magnets people implant oscillate in an AC field due to the 60hz voltage reversals that make it AC. The owner can feel the movement of the magnet and sense things about the EM field they're near.

      • aoseamilk says:

        This is reigniting my interest. Where did you get it done?

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