Expecting The Unexpected, Will 2017 Be The Year That Implantables Are Adopted By Fashion?

Is There A Place At Fashion's Table For Embedded Technology?

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With less than two weeks left of 2016 I have come to the conclusion that this was the year that we witnessed inventors and scientists daring to merge their ideas with open minded designers and creators. We also had the opportunity to bask in the well deserved glory of makers who successfully experimented beyond the tried and tested traditions set up by the old establishment. It has been great witnessing the industry maturing right before my eyes, and just when I thought I had seen all that 2016 had to offer, I was introduced to The North Sense in the eleventh hour.

The North Sense | Image Credit: Cyborg Nest

The North Sense is a miniature Artificial Sense, that vibrates each time it faces the Magnetic North. The North Sense does not depend on the internet, instead it acts as a standalone artificial sensory organ. The North Sense is the brainchild of Cyborg Nest founders Liviu Babitz, Scott Cohen, Neil Harbisson, Moon Ribas and Steve Haworth. The device has allowed the team of five to take their first steps towards making “artificial sense” a reality.

Coated with the highest quality body-compatible materials, the North Face was inspired by old traditions, such as Feng Shui. Its concept is based on sensing one’s orientation to the earth, Cyborg Nest believes that sensing the North will connect us to earth, directions, space and the continuous flow of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Cyborg Senses: Weaving the Materials. Sam Sadtler helping Moon Ribas try out a prototype

As we read up on the product we quickly came to realize that what makes the North Sense product unique is that it is literally a permanent part of you. When the small piece of technology is embedded into the skin, via the chest area or elsewhere, using titanium rods, it is these rods that then anchor to an electronic device which, once calibrated, vibrates when facing north, providing the user with a sixth sense. On the affects following the embedding process co-founder Scott Cohen shares, “It is hard to put into words only a few hours after attaching the North Sense but the feeling I am left with is profound. The impact of immediately sensing my position created a permanent memory. I vaguely recall the colors and sounds in the room, but I remember my position vividly.”

“This is the first time that the North Sense has ever been attached to the human body.”

Dedicated to the ethical and human rights issues surrounding technological enhancement of the human body, this is the first time that the North Sense has ever been attached to the human body.  The body’s in question are of Harbisson who has an antennae implanted in his head which gives him the synesthetic sense of “hearing” color. Also Ribas, who has a sensor in her arm, which lets her detect earthquakes, giving her a “seismic sense.” Guinea pigs of their own product, the co-founders hope to bring bodyhacking augmentation to the masses. On this school of thought Babitz explained, “This was not another step towards us becoming machines, but towards us becoming more human. We are curious and want to sense and understand more than what we could with our natural born senses.”

Liviu Babitz with his implanted North Sense. Image courtesy of Cyborg Nest
Liviu Babitz with his implanted North Sense. Image courtesy of Cyborg Nest

The North Sense is the kind of product that not only calls out to like-minded transhumans but also to those who like the idea of being part of a group of people with the same thing and having the same experience. On this Babitz told the Creator’s Project, “If for now the [current] knowledge was based on their [the pioneers’] experiences and they were very nice in sharing everything and explaining, it’s still a personal experience. But now it is going to be a larger experience for many people that are all going to have the same sense. So it will give everybody a much bigger perspective from which to do research.”

“In 10 years time they imagine that we will all have devices implanted in us, augmenting us with senses we never thought we would have.”

Showing promise, it looks like the future we thought only belonged in the movies might not be as far away as we first thought. According to the founders behind The North Sense, in 10 years time they imagine that we will all have devices implanted in us, augmenting us with senses we never thought we would haveIf 10 years away feels like a lifetime away, you can, for $350.00, start your cyborg experience. But note that pre orders at that price will end as of 10th January 2017. The updated price will then be $420.00. Which leads us to question what role could implants play in the world of fashion and retail? Can an embedded chip become a must have accessory for the forward thinking trendsetters? Well, I guess, like many things in this space, it all remains to be seen. Until then I think I will remain quite old school with this innovation and watch cautiously from the sidelines.

Pre-order your North Sense HERE.

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