Bio Hacking: The Future of Assistive Technology?

Artist Neil Harrison with an attachment connected to his head that lets him hear colors.
This post is meant to be thought provoking.  Please share your thoughts & feedback in the comments section below.
 
We live in a world that is inventing assistive technology solutions constantly. There are all sorts of devices, accessories, apps,  and wearables that are inexpensive, yet provide great  convenience to people with disabilities. Technology is amazing, and with access to all sorts of resources on the internet, inventing assistive technology solutions and reaching out to more and more people is becoming more common. Three or four decades ago, would we have ever imagined that assistive technology would take such huge leaps? 
 
The present is fantastic. Now..let’s look into the future. How crazy can things get in the future?
 
Imagine a world where someone doesn’t need to use any devices. Even though they may have disabilities, they will be able to go about doing their daily chores without the help of  assistive technology.  
 
How would that be possible though?
 
Bio Hacking!
 
By including chips in our body – chips that will hold and transfer different types of information and perform various functions for  us. Picture a blind person wanting to open a door that has electronic lock – instead of looking for their key fob in their pocket and then flashing it in front of the lock, the person just stands in front of the lock (or waves their hand in front of it) and the door unlocks. The same person could be at a check out counter at a grocery store ready to pay. The same chip (or a different one) embedded in their body that stores their credit card information could be read by the card scanner/machine without the person doing anything (reaching out for their wallet and pulling out cash/ credit card). When it’s time to go back home, a chip that has GPS co-ordinates to their house, will give them step by step directions. Once you enter your home, the thermostat would set to a specific temperature, and the oven would start.
 
If someone requires frequent visits to the doctor, a similar chip in their body can eliminate or reduce visits by monitoring all their biomedical information over a period of time, and transmitting it to the doctor via Bluetooth and internet. Messages and text messages could be displayed on a screen embedded in their skin. Imagine how helpful that would be for someone that muscular dystrophy, ALS or limited motor skills, and pulling out a phone out of their pocket is a really tedious task.

 
 
Embedding tiny magnets in your fingertips will be able to give the person a sort of sixth sense – they would be able to detect magnetic fields around them. By just waving their hand in a room, they can get a sense of where things are, and also get some additional information like the shape of the objects. They would possibly be able to lift small objects with those embedded magnets.
 
Essentially, with the help of electronics and technology, our bodies would be enhanced and be able to do things that a “regular” body cannot do on its own. 
 
What is the inspiration behind this crazy vision though? 
 
First of all, depending on who you talk to, it may or may not be considered crazy. A lot of “Body
hacking” or “Bio hacking” is already being done by many body hackers, whose aim is to enhance the way the human body functions. They believe in running faster than a cheetah, smashing holes through walls, avoiding feeding the body because of hunger! Okay, these are definitely crazy ideas but their basic philosophy is that with a few tweaks,  the human body can do a lot more than what we are used to.
 
photo of tim cannon -founder of grid house wetware showing a chip under his skin on his left forearm.
Tim Cannon

A startup in Pittsburg, called Grindhouse Wetware, is already leading the way, with the goal of “augmenting humanity using safe, affordable, open source technology”. Tim Cannon is a very well known biohacker in the community, and his vision of using technology to enhance human lives is very interesting.

 
We may think that all of this will happen anywhere from 10 – 70 years from now, but, the reality is that all of this has already started happening. This phenomenon is off to a start in a sort of an underground, not so mainstream, traditional community. However, keep an eye on this space because within the next few years, it has potential to get noticed by more and more bigger companies who wouldn’t hesitate to make this more mainstream. 
 
Do we question the feasibility of body hacking? We did question the personal computer and cell phones when they first came out too.

 

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