When someone sees the arm of self-proclaimed body hacker Tim Cannon, one cannot help but cringe. It can be a case of DIY cyborg project, an extreme case of body modification, or a glimpse of what things can be in the future - Cannon had a device the size of a deck of cards implanted in his arm. The procedure was not done by a medical doctor and it was completed without anesthesia.
What Cannon implanted under the skin of his forearm is called Circadia 1.0, a biometric gadget that he developed himself. It is a simple battery-powered device that can detect and record the body's temperature. It can also transmit the data it gathers to the user's Android device via Bluetooth. The flesh-mounted mini-computer can be charged wirelessly.
Since no board-certified medical professional will agree to do the job, Cannon who is based in Pittsburgh, had to go to Essen, Germany where he found someone willing, a tattoo and piercing expert to be exact, to do the installation.
"Ever since I was a kid, I've been telling people that I want to be a robot.These days, that doesn't seem so impossible anymore," said Cannon. Cannon is a software developer for a company called Grindhouse Wetware that is dedicated to augmenting the human body using cheap and open source technologies.
"I think that our environment should listen more accurately und more intuitively to what's happening in our body. So if, for example, I've had a stressful day, the Circadia will communicate that to my house and will prepare a nice relaxing atmosphere for when I get home: dim the lights, let in a hot bath," Cannon said.
While the first attempt seems to be Frankenstein-like, Cannon and his team at Grinderhouse Wetware have developed a pulse monitoring device and a smaller version of the Circadia. The team is also looking into options on how to make the procedure more tolerable by potential users.
According to sci-fi novelist and futurist James Rollins, biohacking might be the wave of human evolution.
"There's a whole 'transhuman' movement, which is the merging of biology and machine. Google Glass is one small step, and now there's a Japanese scientist who's developed the contact lens equivalent of Google Glass. And those are two things you put right on, if not in, your body. So I think we're already moving that way, and quite rapidly," Rollins said.