Kevin Warwick: A Practical Guide to Human Enhancement (video)

Posted by on February 4th, 2011

Here’s the vernacular video recording of Kevin Warwick‘s recent presentation at the recent UK H+ conference; A Practical Guide to Human Enhancement:

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We see things differently

Posted by on January 11th, 2011

We’re 11 days into 2011 and I’m watching the north of my country drown on live-television, as they in turn switch between exhausted officals giving press conferences, to reports straight from social media. In fact, they’re just sending viewers straight to #qldfloods. But, look.. SHINY!

Let’s face it, we’re going to need ever better methods to record disaster pr0n and navigate our way through it. OK, we don’t need them, but some kind of distraction is needed now and again. What have we got so far this year?

Augmented reality HUDS? Check. This was just released for skiers:

Introducing  Transcend, Recon Instruments’ collaboration with Colorado’s Zeal Optics. Transcend is the world’s first GPS-enabled goggles with a head-mounted display system.

Minimum interaction is required during use, sleek graphics and smart optics are completely unobtrusive for front and peripheral vision making it the ultimate solution for use in fast-paced environments.

Transcend provides real-time feedback including speed, latitude/longitude, altitude, vertical distance travelled, total distance travelled, chrono/stopwatch mode, a run-counter, temperature and time. It is also the only pair of goggles in the world that boasts GPS capabilities, USB charging and data transfer, and free post-processing software all with a user-friendly, addictive interface.

Just like the dashboard of a sports car or the instruments of a fighter jet, Transcend’s display provides performance-enhancing data, but only when you choose to view it. Safe, smart, fun…all wrapped up in the hottest goggle frame of 2010/11.

Now, of course you ask, but how will I best show my friends a panoramic, interactive recording of that sick black run (or train for the next one)? Sony has just the thing:

Besides looking über futuristic, Sony’s “virtual 3D cinematic experience” head mounted display (aka ‘Headman’) sports some fairly impressive specs. The tiny OLED screens inside are head HD resolution (1280 x 720), and the headphones integrated into the sides of the goggles are outputting high quality simulated 5.1 channel surround sound.

OK, that’s just a prototype. But something like it will be coming soon, so leave some space for it in your underground bunker.

But m1k3y, you say.. “those are great and all, but WHERE’S MY CLATTER?!” Well, I saved the best for last:

In 2008, as a proof of concept, Babak Parviz at the University of Washington in Seattle created a prototype contact lens containing a single red LED. Using the same technology, he has now created a lens capable of monitoring glucose levels in people with diabetes.

It works because glucose levels in tear fluid correspond directly to those found in the blood, making continuous measurement possible without the need for thumb pricks, he says. Parviz’s design calls for the contact lens to send this information wirelessly to a portable device worn by diabetics, allowing them to manage their diet and medication more accurately.

Lenses that also contain arrays of tiny LEDs may allow this or other types of digital information to be displayed directly to the wearer through the lens. This kind of augmented reality has already taken off in cellphones, with countless software apps superimposing digital data onto images of our surroundings, effectively blending the physical and online worlds.

Making it work on a contact lens won’t be easy, but the technology has begun to take shape. Last September, Sensimed, a Swiss spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, launched the very first commercial smart contact lens, designed to improve treatment for people with glaucoma.

The disease puts pressure on the optic nerve through fluid build-up, and can irreversibly damage vision if not properly treated. Highly sensitive platinum strain gauges embedded in Sensimed’s Triggerfish lens record changes in the curvature of the cornea, which correspond directly to the pressure inside the eye, says CEO Jean-Marc Wismer. The lens transmits this information wirelessly at regular intervals to a portable recording device worn by the patient, he says.

Like an RFID tag or London’s Oyster travel cards, the lens gets its power from a nearby loop antenna – in this case taped to the patient’s face. The powered antenna transmits electricity to the contact lens, which is used to interrogate the sensors, process the signals and transmit the readings back.

Each disposable contact lens is designed to be worn just once for 24 hours, and the patient repeats the process once or twice a year. This allows researchers to look for peaks in eye pressure which vary from patient to patient during the course of a day. This information is then used to schedule the timings of medication.

Parviz, however, has taken a different approach. His glucose sensor uses sets of electrodes to run tiny currents through the tear fluid and measures them to detect very small quantities of dissolved sugar. These electrodes, along with a computer chip that contains a radio frequency antenna, are fabricated on a flat substrate made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a transparent polymer commonly found in plastic bottles. This is then moulded into the shape of a contact lens to fit the eye.

Parviz plans to use a higher-powered antenna to get a better range, allowing patients to carry a single external device in their breast pocket or on their belt. Preliminary tests show that his sensors can accurately detect even very low glucose levels. Parvis is due to present his results later this month at the IEEE MEMS 2011 conference in Cancún, Mexico.

“There’s still a lot more testing we have to do,” says Parviz. In the meantime, his lab has made progress with contact lens displays. They have developed both red and blue miniature LEDs – leaving only green for full colour – and have separately built lenses with 3D optics that resemble the head-up visors used to view movies in 3D.

Parviz has yet to combine both the optics and the LEDs in the same contact lens, but he is confident that even images so close to the eye can be brought into focus. “You won’t necessarily have to shift your focus to see the image generated by the contact lens,” says Parviz. It will just appear in front of you, he says. The LEDs will be arranged in a grid pattern, and should not interfere with normal vision when the display is off.

For Sensimed, the circuitry is entirely around the edge of the lens (see photo). However, both have yet to address the fact that wearing these lenses might make you look like the robots in the Terminator movies. False irises could eventually solve this problem, says Parviz. “But that’s not something at the top of our priority list,” he says.

So close… And Terminator eyes? That’s a feature, not a bug. YES PLEASE!

Slampt shows how to implant an RFID chip

Posted by on June 24th, 2010

We don’t get the chance to post much actual in-world Grinding here; not that we’re not constantly on the look out for it.

Implanting an RFID chip and modding your stuff to use it is still the state of the art in Grinder Tech. (And if there’s something better you know of out there, EMAIL ME! m1k3y AT grinding DOT be). We’ve mentioned Jon Oxer on here a few times, but the details were incomplete.

Western Australian honorary Grinder slampt has done the best job so far in documenting the process; even videoing the minor surgery he had to implant the chip:

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His main reference was Tim Fanelli’s excellent RFID wiki, so (hint hint) that’s an excellent place to get started if you’re so inspired! (And if anybody starts saying you’re getting the Number of the Beast implanted, point them straight to his Implant Philosophy page.)

This is still very much DIY tech. Getting the chip implanted is the easiest part; they’re not expensive at all. The harder part seems to be finding a doctor, nurse or piercing professional happy to inject the chip.

The much more expensive part, especially in spending TIME, not MONEY, is modifying your house, car, motorbike or computer.. whatever it is you want to use the chip to control or access.

We’re still a ways off having off-the-shelf, consumer tech that is RFID Implant ready; give it time. But there are resources aplenty out there to help you. Find your local HackerSpace; failing that, create one!

So get to it. Wow me and report back.

UPDATE: Minor correction, per slampt: “Tim Fanelli has an excellent RFID wiki, which I both contributed to and used. This is a great source of information and people are encouraged to contribute.”

First human ‘infected’ with computer virus

Posted by on May 27th, 2010
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via 80% of the humans I follow on Twitter.

Lepht Anonym – Scrapheap Transhumanist

Posted by on February 18th, 2010

h+ has a great piece written by a genuine Grinder:

I’ve made scalpel incisions in my hands, pushed five-millimeter diameter needles through my skin, and once used a vegetable knife to carve a cavity into the tip of my index finger. I’m an idiot, but I’m an idiot working in the name of progress: I’m Lepht Anonym, scrapheap transhumanist. I work with what I can get

Keep Reading..

via David Forbes


Steel-woven wallet pledges to keep RFID credit cards safe

Posted by on December 13th, 2009

We kid you not. According to its online retailer, the wallet is woven from over 20,000 super-fine strands of stainless steel which “protects your ID like armour plate”.

The idea is sound, in principle. The stitching methodology reminded us of a Faraday cage – an enclosure designed to block out external electric fields.

The wallet promises to completely shield its contents from today’s hi-tech pickpockets, while also being stronger than leather.

Speaking of contents, the wallet can hold six cards, has two internal slots and a billfold – that’s a fiver folding flap to our British readers.


Seeing RFID on the cheap

Posted by on October 13th, 2009

The folks at BERG developed this neat method for visualizing the sensitivity of an RFID reader. Rather than using an expensive set of test equipment to measure the magnetic field intensity, they just hooked their reader up so that it lit an LED every time their card was detected, and then captured it using a camera.

Link and video via

Second Sight – Augmented Contacts

Posted by on September 3rd, 2009

We talked about the prototype HUD contact in January 2008. They have been working on improvements:

Today — together with his students — Babak A. Parviz, bionanotechnology expert at University of Washington, is already producing devices that have a lens with one wirelessly Radio Frequency powered LED. To turn such a lens into a functional browser, control circuits, communication circuits and miniature antennas will have to be integrated. These lenses will eventually include hundreds of semitransparent LEDs, which will form images in front of the eye: words, charts, imagery enabling the wearers to navigate their surroundings whithout distraction or disorientation. The optoelectronics in the lens may be controlled by a seperate device that relays information to the lens’s control circuit. Another use could be the monitoring of the wearer’s health and biomarkers f.e. cholesterol, sodium, kalium or glucose.

Link and photo via, though the image is a concept only at this point and not yet a working prototype.

Thanks to LBA for the tip-off!

spacebook – an interactive, post-privacy house

Posted by on July 15th, 2009

MIT’s Spacebook project looks to be a very interesting exploration of post-privacy:

Spacebook is a project to design an interactive house whose walls gradually change in transparency with changes in local environmental conditions and the presence or absence of people inside and outside the space. The projects uses a new type of glass that was recently patented at the SENSEable City Lab

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via Planet Damage

Tags just got cheaper

Posted by on May 17th, 2009

The Nikkei, a major Japanese business publication, is reporting that NEC is planning to sell RFID tag readers/writers, which are priced less than 10% compared to existing products. The company seems to have made major advancements “in the field of semiconductor research”, resulting in the drastic price cut.

The tags are compatible with all of the six worldwide radio communications standards. NEC is ready to accept orders beginning as early as this July. 10,000 of the new tags will be available for approximately $100.

NEC is expecting to rake in $1 billion in sales by 2014 by not only selling the tags but by also leasing compatible software and servers to buyers. The company seems to be willing to expand the scope of usage of RFID tags from the industrial field to the retail sector in order to achieve mass adoption.

Link and quote via,

Sub-Dermal Tiny Devices To Alleviate Chronic Pain

Posted by on May 16th, 2009

Concept, currently under development:

Texas-based MicroTransponder has come up with a neural stimulator to ease chronic pain. Small electrodes are implanted by injection in a procedure that takes only 30mn. Once in place, stimulators are powered by a low-energy radio signal, like RFID tags.

With this technology, there is no need for wires or battery replacement. It is possible to tweak some settings using a PDA or a laptop.


RFID Wardriving demo

Posted by on February 3rd, 2009

From Hack a Day, this video demos “reading and logging unique IDs of random tags and Passport Cards while cruising around San Francisco”:

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More details on this from The Register:

The $250 proof-of-concept device – which researcher Chris Paget built in his spare time – operates out of his vehicle and contains everything needed to sniff and then clone RFID, or radio frequency identification, tags. During a recent 20-minute drive in downtown San Francisco, it successfully copied the RFID tags of two passport cards without the knowledge of their owners.

Paget’s device consists of a Symbol XR400 RFID reader (now manufactured by Motorola), a Motorola AN400 patch antenna mounted to the side of his Volvo XC90, and a Dell 710m that’s connected to the RFID reader by ethernet cable. The laptop runs a Windows application Paget developed that continuously prompts the RFID reader to look for tags and logs the serial number each time one is detected. He bought most of the gear via auctions listed on eBay.

thanks to Vertigo Jones for the tip-off!

Papua mulls chips for HIV victims

Posted by on December 1st, 2008

From the BBC News:

The bill proposes tracking the movements of HIV-positive people who behave in what some MPs describe as an irresponsible way.

The proposal is the most controversial of a swathe of programmes to tackle the spread of HIV in Indonesia.

Papua has one of the worse infection rates outside Africa.

As well as proposing to use microchips to track people’s movements, it also suggests tattooing as a way of alerting health officials to carriers of the virus.

It recommends mandatory testing for all Papuans, with special ID cards issued to those who test positive.

Proposal is the first step to implementation.

Tiny Radio Tags Track Bees

Posted by on November 14th, 2008

    - photo via

It’s no mystery to scientists that bees have been disappearing and or dying off in record numbers. Besides contributing billions of dollars to the US economy, they play an important role in the pollination of crops. That apple you are eating? Not possible with out a little help from the honey bee.

Tracking their movement has come one step closer:

In the bee-tracking project, Wikelski and his colleagues are using transmitters the size of three or four grains of rice, powered by a tiny hearing-aid battery and with a crystal-controlled oscillator and an antenna measuring up to an inch and a half.

The transmitters, at a featherweight 0.006 ounces (170 milligrams), are small and light enough to attach to the backs of bees from two relatively hefty species, weighing .02 ounces (600 milligrams), with just a bit of eyelash glue and superglue.

Even loaded up with these backpacks, nearly a third of their body weight, “they fly beautifully,” says Wikelski.

The transmitters allow the scientists to track the insects as long as the bees remain within a few miles of their receiver. So far Wikelski and his team have fitted tags on orchid bees at Panama’s Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and conducted successful indoor tests in a New Jersey lab with North America’s biggest bee species, the carpenter bee.

These early tests are proof of concept. Most bees are much smaller than orchid and carpenter bees. In fact, many wild bee species are the size of just a pine nut.

The tags are tiny, but need to be smaller still for honey bees. Although they have tiny robots, having a camera on a bee would make for excellent surveillance. They would just have to avoid being swatted.

Link and photo via

Scratch built RFID tags

Posted by on November 13th, 2008

    - via

Seen on, nmarquardt via, gives step-by-step instructions on how to build a basic RFID reader. Download as a PDF or simply follow the steps on the screen, you can create a tag that will detect other tags near it or one that is orientation sensitive. At the end of the tutorial is a varations section, which list suggestions for other hacks you can do.

RFID Flower

Posted by on October 23rd, 2008

Anab Jain has made RFID into something rather pretty:

RFID Flower

via MAKE | Neo-nomad.

Implanted Microchip Will Monitor Your Health, Deliver Drugs From Under Your Skin

Posted by on October 22nd, 2008


The chip is much more precise than the finger pricking method for monitoring blood, and in diabetes sufferers, can minimize the risk of complications like blindness and kidney failure. The first glucose-monitoring and osteoporosis drug-releasing chips will begin human clinical trials next year. MicroCHIPS is looking into developing more advanced versions that can predict heart or kidney failure, biodegrade in the body, and release multiple vaccine or drug doses over time.

Hello Medical Tag! Ok, a primitive medical one, but it’s a good step in the right direction. I wonder if they have even considered adding any kind of sercurity to this? How easy could it be to hack into the tag and trigger an overdose of meds?

RFID remotes have line-of-sight in their sights

Posted by on October 18th, 2008

No more need for batteries in that remote control:

Taiwanese electronics specialist Favite has been demonstrating its latest remote control module using RFID technology to remove the need for batteries – at least for those prepared to bathe their living room in a two-watt energy field.

Using a passive RFID tag to communicate with a TV might seem strange, but at 433MHz the range is sufficient, and a modern tag is perfectly capable of reporting which button is being pressed while collecting energy from the two-watt induction field being generated by the TV every few seconds.

Favite accepts that not everyone is going to want such a high-powered transmitter in the corner of their living room, so it’s suggested that a rechargeable version could exist, or one powered with a button cell which it reckons should give ten years of life in normal use.

Most remotes still operate on infrared, which is largely line of sight and very, very, cheap. For TVs that line of sight issue has never really been a problem: why would you want control of the TV you can’t see?


Battery-free RFID Sensing Platform

Posted by on October 15th, 2008


Reportedly, the outfit [GE Global Research] has developed a battery-free RFID sensing platform — one that can provide a highly selective response to multiple chemicals under variable conditions — which could enable a “wide range of low-cost wireless sensing products in industries like healthcare, security, food packaging, etc.” Put simply, the tags get their power from the sensor reader, which activates the tag’s antenna and the RFID chip to collect meaningful data. There’s no word on when these will leave the lab, but the sooner the better, we say.

One more step closer to the RFID tags in the world of DOKTOR SLEEPLESS.

NFCs, tikitags; the Future is looking very Spimey

Posted by on September 9th, 2008

As the news out of Japan hinted, they’re already moving beyond the world of QRCodes. Just as the rest of us are starting to explore it with what we like to think of as ‘futurephones’ (or is it just me?).

And I was left with this question:

So what is different about this Near Field Communication? Is there some thin electronics being printed into the poster? More investigation is clearly required.

The obvious first stop is the wikipedia entry:

NFC phone readerNFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology which enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 centimetre (around 4 inches) distance. The technology is a simple extension of the ISO 14443 proximity-card standard (contactless card, RFID) that combines the interface of a smartcard and a reader into a single device.

So it’s RFIDs being integrated into our phones; yeah, I think we all saw that coming.

Of course now I’m wondering when we’ll see this outside of Japan. And then Bruce Sterling tweeted: “Wondering how spimey “tikitag” really is. They’re looking mighty spimed.“.

And what does tikitag use? NFC:

tikitag uses high frequency RFID (Radio Frequent IDentification) operating at 13.56MHz. tikitag uses passive RFID tags and active readers. tikitag is also compatible with Near Field Communication, a standard based on HF RFID and being implemented in more and more mobile phones.

But enough with the text quotes, what does it look like? Here’s an example:
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A simple, but powerful demo. For one, it’s far less obtrusive than having to scan the big graphic that a QRCode is. These can placed inside and behind things, so long as the reader can hit them.

And what sort of applications do they see for it?

tikitag applications

So just about everything in the modern consumer world then.

But we all just got QRCodes readers on our iPhones, N-Series Nokias, etc. They can’t be upgrading the tech already, can then? Of course they are:

What mobile phones are NFC enabled?

Today you can buy the Nokia 6131 NFC and in the near future as well the Nokia 6212 Classic. Other: BenQ T80, Motorola L7 (SLVR) NFC, Samsung SGH-D500E NFC, Samsung SGH-X700n (brick) NFC, Sagem-Orga my700X NFC, Nokia 3220 + NFC Shell and some Kyocera models.

So it’s just in new phones by most of the major makers then.

Alright kids, forget QRCodes then, get ready for NFC. I can’t wait to see what comes next; bring on the internet of things!

See Also: