Tech Talk: Implants Aren't Coming, They're Already Here

The wearable market is getting pretty advanced these days, and a bit quirky, as well. Smart socks? Yep. Smart watches? Smarter than ever. Smart belt? Check. So, what's the logical endgame? Quite simply, it's implants. Cochlear implants already help people hear - they could be the next wireless headphones. DIY tech implants, called biohacking, are already a thing, and a big thing at that. So now, we are at the precipice of having to answer the question that science fiction enthusiasts have fought over for decades, a question that a lot of people thought would never actually be asked in their lifetimes; where do we draw the lines? Where does the scale tip between human and cyborg? How much tech is too much? What is and isn't okay to implant? What level of bio-integration should tech logically be allowed?

Ask anybody in the know, and they will tell you that the age of cyborgs is already upon us, just not in the typical science fiction sense. We aren't going to see people shooting missiles from their hands, but there is a guy with a prosthetic arm that looks and functions much like the robotic one found in Metal Gear Solid V. We probably won't see tech making people immortal in our lifetimes, but Pacemakers are keeping thousands, if not millions of hearts going to this day that would have given out long ago if left to work on their own. People are implanting NFC chips and magnets in themselves to control electronics more easily. It happened so under-the-radar that many may have missed it, but the era of man and machine becoming one is definitely already here, just in the early stages. So, what happens from here?

For starters, a lot of wearable products focus on health monitoring. Those can easily be replaced by implantable tech, which may even be able to fix some of the issues it diagnoses. Rather than a smart belt that links to an app that scolds you for overeating, imagine a stomach implant that simply stimulates your gut when you've eaten enough, and makes you feel full. While gadgets of that sort sound not only like science fiction, but somewhat unethical, you may be interested to know that things in that same vein are already a reality. One example is the North Sense, from Cyborg Nest. Available for pre-order right now to the tune of $367, the North Sense is a fairly simple implantable that just vibrates when you're facing north. While it may be simpler to just pull out your phone when lost, such a thing could come in handy if your battery dies and there's nobody around to guide you or lend a device. Still, it goes to show the direction that technology is moving in; namely, toward human augmentation. Another implantable, the NorthStar V1 from Grindhouse wetware, is modular and allows tech implantation. A second version is coming soon, which will add Bluetooth capabilities and gestures.

At this point, the question isn't so much what kind of technology will become available; with time, just about anything you may be able to imagine will be available somehow, inevitably, and some things you likely can't think of. The question is, again, where do we draw the lines? Is somebody with an artificial musculoskeletal system that lets them lift inhuman amounts still mostly human? Is it OK to implant something in somebody's eyeball that enables augmented reality and perhaps even recording of anything that they see and hear? Would virtual reality that literally hooks into the brain to immerse the user be okay on an ethical level? These are all questions that will have to be answered sooner than most people think.

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About the Author
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Daniel Fuller

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for Android Headlines since 2015, and is one of the site's Senior Staff Writers. He's been living the Android life since 2010, and has been interested in technology of all sorts since childhood. His personal, educational and professional backgrounds in computer science, gaming, literature, and music leave him uniquely equipped to handle a wide range of news topics for the site. These include the likes of machine learning, voice assistants, AI technology development, and hot gaming news in the Android world. Contact him at [email protected]
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