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DIY Invisible Implant Helps The Visually-Impaired Navigate

DIY Invisible Implant Helps The Visually-Impaired Navigate
technology

Rich Lee implanted a magnet in his ear that can be used as an echolocation tool for the blind.

Daniela Walker
  • 26 june 2013

Rich Lee is a grinder. Grinders perform do-it-yourself body modifications and enhancements to improve the human bodily condition, and are part of the larger biohacking movement which brings a hacking mentality to biology. Lee is partially blind with a diagnosis of eventual total blindness, so he hacked his body and installed a magnet into his ear to act as a speaker.

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The magnet was surgically implanted by a ‘body modification artist’ (this is not a medically approved operation) and Lee wears a coil around his neck which creates a magnetic field, that causes the implant to vibrate and produce sound. Although the obvious use is to listen to music, as a partially blind person, Lee hopes to use the magnets for echolocation purposes to help him navigate through the city streets. By hooking the implants up to a ultrasonic rangefinder, which hums, users would be able to hear when objects are nearby, similar to how bats measure distances with their hearing. Since the headphones are invisible to the naked eye, it would provide a private aid to those with little to no sight.

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