Got some new hardware installed.

For a couple of years now, I've had my eye on the community of people who've had RFID or NFC chips implanted somewhere in their bodies, usually in the back of the hand.  If you've ever used a badge to unlock a door at work or tapped your phone on a point-of-sale terminal to buy something, you've used one of these two technologies in your everyday life to do something useful.  What I've wanted to do for a while was use an implanted chip as a second authentication factor to my servers for better security.  As for why I couldn't …

Read more...

Well, that was a hair raising experience.

Last Thursday morning I went in to have a certain problematic molar taken care of at the dentist's office before it got much worse. To recap briefly, there is a particular molar on the bottom-left side of my mouth that has been through hell: It's broken several times (once particularly memorable time while eating a German soft pretzel, of all things), it's been filled several times, and I've honestly lost track of the number of root canals performed done on it (somewhere between three and six in the last fifteen years). While getting the abscessed #19 tooth taken care of …

Read more...

3D printing of nanomaterials and implanted prosthetic limbs.

Long-time readers of my site no doubt know of my fascination with the field of 3D printing and tracking the advances that are made almost weekly to this technology. From simple plastic tchotchkes to replacement parts to materials that few ever dreamed would be used, 3D fabbers are fast becoming an integral part of manufacturing at all levels of complexity. A few months ago researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory published the results for a revolutionary 3D printer called the Optomec Aerosol Jet 500, a fabber which uses a range of nanomaterials as its feedstock. To cut to the chase …

Read more...

Direct neural interface: Hopefully coming soon to a brain near you

Direct neural interface has long been a dream and fantasy of tech geeks like myself who grew up reading science fiction. Slap an electrode net on your head (or screw a cable into an implanted jack) and there you are, controlling a computer with the same ease that you'd walk down the street or bend a paperclip with your fingers. If nothing else, those of us who battle the spectre of carpal tunnel syndrome constantly know that our careers have a shelf life, and at some point we're going to be out of action more or less permanently. So we …

Read more...

3D printing circuit boards, photography-resistent clothing, and wireless DNI.

Now that I've had a couple of days to sleep and get most of my brain operational again, how about some stuff that other parts of me have stumbled across?

Building your own electronics is pretty difficult. The actual electrical engineering aside you still have to cut, etch, and drill your own printed circuit boards which is a lengthy and sometimes frustrating task. Doubly so when multi layer circuit boards are involved because they're so fiddly and easy to get wrong. There is one open source project that I know of called the Rabbit Pronto which is a RepRap print …

Read more...

Cardiac prosthetics and fully implanted artificial limbs.

No matter how you cut it, heart failure is one of those conditions that sends a chill down your spine. When the heart muscle grows weak and inefficient, it compromises blood flow through the body and can cause a host of other conditions, some weird, some additionally dangerous. Depending on how severe the condition is there are several ways of treating it. For example, my father in law has an implanted defibrillator that monitors his cardiac activity, though fairly simple lifestyle changes have worked miracles for his physical condition in the past several years. Left ventricular assist devices, implantable pumps …

Read more...

Prosthetic synaesthesia and cortical implants.

The human brain is a remarkably complex and flexible organ, with as many possible failure modes and glitches as there are emergent and surprising properties. Take something away, and sometimes you can coax another part of the brain to take up the slack in some other way. Case in point, artist Neil Harbisson. Harbisson was born with a condition called achromatopsia, which is the name for a group of disorders which collectively result in the same phenomenon - he cannot see colors, only shades of greyscale. Sometimes it's a neurological dysfunction, sometimes it's a defect in the retina, and sometimes it's …

Read more...

Repurposing pharmateuticals and developments in prosthetic limbs.

It is well known that the human brain is a marvelously complex and flexible mechanism, capable of aggregating and processing information from our senses as well as ruminating and calculating based upon the results of other internal processes. It is so complex, in fact, that at this time we can't be sure of what its limits are or what's actually going on in there. People have built entire careers around studying emergent phenomena within the operation of the brain. The day to day operation of the human brain is so complex that it takes very little to tweak its functionality …

Read more...

Outbreaks of the future: 3d printing.

More and more in the year 2012 of the common era, I find myself noticing what Warren Ellis once called 'outbreaks of the future'. Advances and developments in technology that were once the thoughts of the dreamers of science and are now the fruits of the labor of shapers and makers of novel things. Perhaps it's due to my lack of 3d modeling ability that I tend to focus on the field of 3D printing, which has fascinated me since I helped build a 3d printer several years ago. So it goes.

The first thing that I noticed was that …

Read more...