Man Implants Computer Chip in His Arm: DIY, Meet Cyborg

Tim Cannon is a biohacker, a body modification enthusiast — and now a cyborg, after he had a giant computer chip implanted in his arm. Cannon had the chip implanted by another biohacker and without anesthetic, tech site Motherboard reports. The tiny computer, which bulges from just under the skin of Cannon's arm, collects biometric data and can transmit it to any Android device. Which isn't creepy at all.

The implantation was performed during a body-modification conference in Germany by a fellow enthusiast. The chip is many steps away from being approved by medical authorities, so the surgery was left to Steve Haworth, a biohacker who comes from a family with a background in medical engineering. Before this, he developed such modifications as the 3-D tattoo and the metal mohawk. Because he's not a surgeon, Haworth wasn't able to use anesthetics during Cannon's procedure. But, he points out helpfully, "there are pretty amazing things we can do with ice." Just like piercing your ears.

The chip in its first version, called Circadia 1.0, records and reports Cannon's body temperature. The chip itself isn't scary-big (just 50 mm square), but it needs a lot of help to function: batteries that can be wirelessly charged, a charging coil, LED lights, and "bio-proofing materials," all encased in a plastic shell. The Circadia is also open-source, giving Cannon complete control over what's done with the data.

But what, exactly, will be done with the data? Not much, at least at first. Information on body temperature can be sent via Bluetooth to Cannon's phone, and three LED status lights illuminate a tattoo inked just above the implant. A newer version that can record pulse information has already been completed, and the chip's creators hope to one day link Circadia to a larger network. As for the data itself, it will be mostly for personal use — for now. "If, for example, I've had a stressful day," explains Cannon, "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."

With attention like that, who needs a girlfriend?

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According to Motherboard, Cannon's eventual goal is to "hack evolution itself." And by making his device open-source, he hopes to make implants like his more readily available to those who can't afford higher-end medical devices, and to maintain control of the biometric data the Circadia records. While hacking biometric data is a very real concern, Cannon is more worried about widespread availability and independence. In a future of implants like this one, corporations could take selling your body to a whole new level — something Cannon is trying to preempt.The Circadia should be ready for wider distribution within a few months, when it will sell through body-modification channels for about $500. But this is one DIY you probably won't want on your Pinterest.

Image: Flickr/Peter Shanks