implanted earphones
  • DirectorXDirectorX June 2013
    This idea was completely inspired by @Saumanahaii 's thread here:

    I'm taking a multi-stage approach to the implant and I'm going about it differently. We will see if it works.

    First, the idea is based on this:

    The project is set up like this:
    1. implant magnets
    2. test implants with coil to make sure audio is picked up
    3. implant coil/other parts w/transdermal jack & power charger

    I got the implant yesterday. I'm waiting for it to heal before I start testing. I struggled with the implant location. I noticed that running my finger over the tragus produced an audio effect kind of like what audio sounds like through a stethoscope. I'm not sure if everyone has this experience or if it is just me? I implanted the magnets here. If the audio is not sufficient I will implant a tiny tube next to the magnet to get the pressure changes into the ear canal. I'll keep you posted.
  • This is what I get for dithering around for months.  I was going to get around to eventually finishing these things, I just got mired in the technical details of what I was trying to do.  Needless to say, I'll be watching your progress closely.  Your idea seems more elegant than mine, if it can produce decent sound quality (mine can't.  Turns out, surface transducers of any small size are universally terrible).
  • DirectorXDirectorX June 2013
    Bone conduction has a lot of advantages over my design. I'm not exactly going for sound quality with my design. I'm mainly going to use it to attach to different sensors. I'll be happy with a hum.
  • CassoxCassox June 2013
    Simply awesome. How was the implant done? Is it a subdermal in the tragus?
  • DirectorXDirectorX June 2013
    Yes it is subdermal. Procedure wise, a cut was made on the top ridge of the tragus and then a tunnel was made into the tragus, on the outside (rather than inside of the ear). Here is a pic to show where the implant rests and where the incision was made.

    (not my ear, btw)
    The inner side of the tragus doesn't have enough skin to hold the implant, which is why we went with the outer side. We thought it was best to enter from the top ridge and tunnel downward to reduce visible scars and it is also the best spot we could think of to put stitches. This may not have been the most pain-free route, but I went with it because I was nervous about making sure the implants stayed put with a stitch in the most secure place possible. I think it was a smart choice because the implants have slipped upwards a bit.

    I'm still waiting for nerve regrowth and for the skin to heal fully before messing with it too much.
  • CassoxCassox June 2013
    Awesome. Have you even passed a magnet near it yet to feel it pull?
  • How long do you think it will take to heal enough to start playing?
  • DirectorXDirectorX June 2013
    I couldn't resist playing with it, of course. I have some electric clippers that put off a good field that I tested the same day that I got the implants. It was painful. I've tested it since and the buzzing is noticeable, although not nearly as much as it is in the fingertips. So, at the very least, I know that the amped loop will be enough to turn the magnets into a decent actuator.

    My clippers are too damned loud (and vibrate too much) to tell if I am hearing sound or not. I bought a circuit & amp/coil setup like the one I linked to. I'm still waiting for it to get here from Germany. I feel fairly confident about starting the experiments now even though the stitches are still in. Does anyone know how to simulate the effects of the above linked device using my computer's headphone jack or some other method?
  • You know, this is the first new biohack I have seen since I've been on the board. There's lots of talk, but little action. Kudos for actually doing something. Please keep up updated. 
  • IanIan June 2013
    @meanderingman: There is some action happening, but it's not necessarily getting a lot of mention on here.  Grindhouse has been particularly productive during the last couple of months, and I myself came up with a project that I'm working on (I haven't said anything about it on here, but I have on the facebook group).
  • DirectorXDirectorX June 2013
    I got my device in the mail an hour ago. Bought batteries, commenced testing.

    At first I heard nothing. Then, I could make out a faint mumble. I maximized my volume settings and moved to coil slightly closer to my ears and then I was suddenly hearing the voice of Kevin Warwick, giving a lecture on a youtube video.

    It fucking works! The sound quality is surprisingly good! Much better than I thought it would be. I need to increase my amps and I can already tell that I'll need to mess with the power supply. It currently runs on 2 9v batteries and I'm guessing those might only last me a few days. I need something rechargeable. Lots of work to do now!
  • This is so exciting! I'm so glad it's working. Thank you for posting updates, please keep us posted on your progress! I'm following this closely as I think it may well be my next implant.
  • By surprisingly good, what do you mean?  Like, I could stop playing with surface transducers and go grab me a magnet and a coil loop good?  Do you think your implantable airtube idea would drop the power requirement?  How big is the coil?  I was imagining it being a small loop over the ear, not the monstrosity linked to in the Instructable.  That's embeddable, even.  Do you think a bigger magnet would make this work better, or is it a moot question given the location?  Do you still think that that is the best location for the magnet?
  • AmmonRaAmmonRa June 2013
    Would it be possible to also use it as a mic? i.e. run a constant current through the coil and measure resistance? would it be close enough to one's mouth? or would bone/flesh conduction be enough?
  • DirectorXDirectorX June 2013
    so here's what I know. the tragus seems to have been a good spot to implant the magnet I think. if I press on the tragus then the volume increases how's the magnet moves towards the eardrum. To improve the sound quality you could add more magnets in different areas of the ear. Again, the closer it gets to the eardrum the better it is. I need to do more test with varying sized magnets to tell how that affects the sound quality. so far my instinct tells me that putting in a powerful magnet might have a bad effect on my phone or using standard earbuds. I haven't had problems with either of those things by the way with the current magnet I have. I'm not sure how much the tube will improve the sound quality. I'm having a very hard time describing the sound quality. it isn't as good as standard earbuds obviously. But it is better than many bone conducting elements that I've experimented with. it seems like this thing can produce more bass? or maybe it's a mid sound? Anyways, it sounds deeper than I expected. These things really aren't that hard to build, so I'd recommend that you build one and test it just with a magnet in your your canal to get a good idea of what the sound is like and what kind of things affect sound quality.

    on the topic of the coil, lol, yes the thing is a monstrosity, but wearing it under the shirt is cooler than any option I can think of at the moment for wearing it on the ears. anyone with large gauges in their ears could probably add could to their existing jewelry, no problem. I believe that idea was discussed in another thread.

    @AmmonRa: the microphone idea gives me many many crazy ideas, but the answer to your question is "I don't know". but I can't live life without knowing now, can I? I'll add that to the list of things to test.

    I have been encountering one strange problem maybe somebody can help me out with? when I put this coil in to my PC I hear a local radio station. This only happens on my home PC. I can't hear the radio when I plug in regular ear buds and speakers don't have any audible signs of the station either. I can't figure out how to kill that signal. any ideas?
  • Wait - you can hear radio stations?! Have you tried connecting it to a subvocal comm? 

    May we have some pictures of your build and implant? 

    You sir are a hero. Congrats on the upgrade. 
  • TheWarlachTheWarlach June 2013
    Rich, this is amazing. You're awesome :)
  • RubixRubix June 2013
    The radio station you're hearing is most likely because your loop is acting as an antenna and the EMF of the radio signal is inducing a small current in your loop. I've heard of this happening with some people's braces / head gear. Perhaps you only hear it when you plug the loop into your PC because the loop + the traces in your computer are the right length of wire to be tuned for that station. That length of metal happens to have a resonant frequency that matches that radio station. If you could identify the station and estimate the length of wire you're dealing with, you can figure out how to calculate between radio wavelength and wire length - and then how to intentionally tune your loop to the station you want by changing its length.
  • mkabalamkabala June 2013

    @DirectorX, have you tried using different surfaces in your ear to see if it affects the sound at all?  I've noticed that earbuds tent to use rigid plastic domes on the surface of the transducer to increase treble response.  I'm not an audio engineer, but I would love to find out how the soft surface of your skin affects the frequency response.

    In regards to the radio station, there might be a diode junction somewhere in your PC that's acting as a detector to the radio station.  I had that happen to me once when I was working with TTL circuits trying to construct a variable frequency square wave oscillator.  I wound up trying to amplify the radio station output as much as possible.

    With the coil placed around your neck, I'm assuming you're not trying to reproduce stereo sound.  Will you be experimenting with different coil sizes and orientations?

  • BenBen June 2013
    - Did you buy a prebuilt Set or did you assemble the parts yourself?
    - How do you get your estimation for "I'm guessing those might only last me a few days." ? In the instructables he said, that it lasts for about half an hour
    - Did you try it with just the magnet in your ear "as intended"? I am quite curious as to how the sound compares
    - Awesome project! I think I will start building something similar tomorrow :)
  • DirectorXDirectorX June 2013
    Infinite aggravation (not because of you guys). Ok, the instructables build is looking a bit different than the unit I bought, although it is the same basic principle. This is what I bought:

    I didn't pay close enough attention to the transmitter part of this item. I thought it was just an amp like on the instrucables build. It has a mic, which I like a lot. Anyway, it, like many a lovetron before it, is now fried. I still get AM radio through my AC home PC (facepalm), which is what I've been using to test magnet placement. So, I'm thinking I'll buy an one of those small square ones about the size of an ipod nano with a volume adjustment. Somehow I need to figure out what kind of power I need. I don't want to skimp on the coil length. I don't know why the guy on instrucables went with such a small number of turns. I want to double that. What do you EE guys think? 100m? Too much? Also important to note, I'm using different wire. This is what I'm working with:

    Once I build that, I figure I'll find a good volume range and then figure out my power needs and arrange power accordingly. Lithium polymer something or other.

    Also, to try to answer some questions:

    Yes, I'll experiment with smaller coils. First I really want to get this necklace prototype running again so I can have something to use in my daily life. As far as orientation goes, the coil I was working with seemed fairly liberal in the number of positions it would relay sound in. It kind of forms over the shoulders and I thought this impact it negatively, but it didn't have too big of an affect. Holding the coils perpendicular to the implants also works great, which might be an option if Mickey Mouse hats come back in fashion. When I do move to smaller speaker closer to the ears I want two coils on each side. Hopefully I'll get a L/R thing going and be able to run some creepy binaural beats or something. Magnet placement is weirder than I predicted. First, as stated before, the closer to the eardrum the better. The crus of helix or the concha might be a good location. I did use the magnets that came with the kit in addition to the ones implanted. It was nearly impossible to keep the magnets from sticking to the implants. Using a qtip I was able to push the magnet down quite a bit, but then I got stuck with hearing everything while having a qtip in my ear. I bought some ear plugs to aid me next time. fwiw, even when the magnets are stuck to the implant it increases the volume a lot. Each magnet is like a speaker, so having a magnet on the antitragus or concha will only increase the number of angles you get audio from. It will sound louder too. There are some dynamic things you could do with that if you could isolate one coil to affect only one magnet. Not sure how to do that, but it would be like having surround sound + up and down sound.

    @Mkbala: As far as the question of skin tightness and how it impacts sound, It is hard to say for sure since I only have them in the tragus. Something counter instinctual is that I thought I would be getting a buzzing or some kind of ticklish vibe, but I don't. I pinch the thing and I can't feel the vibes in my tragus. It only distorts the sound a little bit. These are fine vibrations I guess. So my instinct now is to say that sound quality might not be impacted too much by having the implant in a tight spot vs a loose spot.

    One cool thing: I plugged my ear with my finger that has the magnetic implant and music comes out of my fingertip. So cool.

    Let me know how your build goes and what you think of the magnets in the ear canal. Keeping them in was difficult for the people I shared it with. The magnets in the ear drum are going to be much louder than the implants in the tragus or elsewhere. I can't say for sure, but my guess is that holding them on your tragus might give you a good idea of the volume difference I'm looking at.

    I've been typing all day since my unit broke and my brain is fried. Possibly from running AC current through a coil in various positions around my neck and face for hours. I'm going to sleep, but I'll try to answer more questions/make a video, etc, in the next few days. Thanks in advance for the build advice too!
  • MrStickyMrSticky June 2013
    What an amazingly hopeful project! I'm very glad to see you've gotten success out of it.

    I did have a question for you, have you tried wearing over-ear headphones? The magnets in the pair I have are strong enough for me to feel in my finger magnet when I'm putting my headset on, and I wonder what that extra magnet-to-magnet vibration induction would do to the sound you hear with headphones on. Louder, at least on that side?
    I don't imagine it would offer any worthwhile benefits to get a ear magnet with the intent of wearing headphones anyways (won't know until its tried, of course), but it would be nice to know what to expect if someone gets this implant and needs to use their headset for a skype chat, lets say.

  • Read your article on H+.  Didn't know you might be blind soon.  Something you might find interesting:  I tried to learn this years ago when I first got into the idea of portable computing, but never could learn the sounds.  Figure it might benefit you more, though.  Oh, and you made it to Gizmodo.  Damnit.
  • DirectorXDirectorX June 2013
    @Saumanahaii: that seeing sound thing is amazing. @Ian would like this too I think. The thing about getting on sites like Gizmodo and I09 is that you have to get there at the same time the story breaks before dickheads overrun the comment section. It happened to Lepht, then Grindhouse, and now my fucking beard?! And guess how much my cold cyborg ass gives a damn with 54k views in 12 hrs? Not much. Hopefully we get more action on because of it. Thanks for the comments on Gizmodo (and to others who did the same).

    All of this happened way too fast and its not like I had a press kit ready to go..... probably because I don't plan on selling it. 

    @MrSticky: Thanks. I don't have an over the ear headset but I'll test it if I run into one.

    **edit: spelling**
  • HalojenHalojen June 2013
    To give us an indication of what it sounds like, maybe you can open a popular song in an audio editing program and equalise in until it sounds through speakers/headphones like what you're hearing through your magnets.

    And another idea for you to add to your list is to build one of those monstrous coils as per the instructible and then attach it to the ceiling of your car, right above where your head is when you're driving. Hook it into the car's power circuit and you don't have to worry about batteries).
  • IanIan June 2013
    @Saumanahaii @DirectorX:  Way ahead of you.  The vOICe device on that website is precisely one of the two devices (the other being the Eyeborg) that inspired a similar project on my part.  I did actually manage to get decent at interpreting the sounds from the vOICe a long time ago, but I've probably forgotten by now.
  • Yeah, we tried, but Gizmodo is troll heaven.  BoingBoing had significantly nicer comments, even if they were fewer.  I wonder how they'll react to my skin pockets idea, if I ever manage to get it done.
  • BenBen June 2013
    So, I built my own version and it really is quite a cool experience.
    I made my own coil and the next step is to shrink that down.
    The magnets are held by another magnet on the other side which works qiute fine. I wonder how the skin layer will change the sound, though.
    The main difference is that I went straight to a smaller "ear only" coil since by a very crude estimation this should reduce power consumption by factor 100. (very very crude estimation..)
    I think I might give the one around the neck a try, but low power and stereo are two good reasons for a smaller coil..

    One thing I noticed: smaller magnets seem to be better at picking up higher frequencies, yet quieter. Could someone else confirm that I am not just hearing what I expect to hear?
  • DirectorXDirectorX June 2013
    Nice Ben! I'm having a hard time with the neck version and would really like to go to the smaller coils, but I'm having a hard time thinking of where to put them. I think a factor of 100 might be conservative. I'm at a standstill with this power issue. Anybody have any ideas?

    The thing with smaller magnets:
    I noticed the two small magnets that came with my set did seem a little bit tweeter-ish but I didn't notice the volume thing because the magnets were deep in my ear canal. I assumed this was also the reason for higher pitched sound, but I think you may be on to something. I wonder if it has more to do with how far apart north & south are on the magnet? Maybe a cylinder magnet is deeper sounding? Also, I notice a volume increase when I put an extra magnet on my implants (kind of like in your pic). This increase happens whether I put it on the exterior of the tragus or the interior. Have you noticed this increase when using a single magnet?

    I really tried to play down the sound quality because I know there are a lot of audio snobs out there who might have buyers remorse after getting an implant. How would you describe the quality?
  • ThomasEgiThomasEgi June 2013
    i'll go ahead and illustrate the mechanics occuring here from a more physical point of view.

    the neck version won't really work well for two reasons, one is, the magnet itself is far away from the coil, and magnetic fields get weaker with the 3rd potence to the distance (in first aproximation). the other would be the magnetic fields of the magnet and coil aren't lining up. reducing the forces even further.

    wrapping the coil around the ear like pictured above is a very good choice. the overall magnetic coupling is still not that great but a lot better already.

    about the frequency response. this is manly affected by two things: 1. the forces you apply to your magnet. 2. the mass that has to be put in motion by said force. the mechanical system pretty much makes up a 1st order lowpass. so halfing the mass, while keeping the magnetic fields about the same will roughly half the corner frequency of the system .
    increasing the force, by increasing field strength will boost the overall volume, but lower frequencies can be tuned down with an equalizer so you get a better overall output,too.
    other thigs to consider is that the tissue your magnet is placed in (or sits between the 2 magnets) also has a good amount of mass, and internal friction which may cause further damping.

    the system does work, as you demonstrated. the observed effects can be explained physically. but due to the nature of how this thing works you can't really expect to accurately reproduce waveforms. probably nothing for an audiophile audience as there are too many too-hard-too-calculateable-realistically effects influencing the final amplitude and phase of the frequencies. it's still good for communication i guess.
  • BenBen June 2013
    I would love to have coils that go completely and invisibly behind the ear. But the coil will be forced into a weird shape then AND the field would not go directly through the tragus..
    The next one will be way smaller though and more of a circle. At the moment I'm experimenting with different placements all over the ear as to where the natural shape of my ear provides the "best modifiers" to the coil/magnet combination. Also multiple magnets in different locations might give interesting effects.

    Low pass filter, that fits. I knew I had seen the principle of mass - field strength relations we have going on with these magnets before, probably in a filter.

    The sound is IMHO like an old (small) radio or cheap headphones... The 1$ kind.
  • JohnJohn June 2013
    Thanks Thomas, I was thinking of answering him but I knew someone would come by that is actually decent at using words. I'm horrible, your explanation is great.
  • @DirectorX

    Very nice project. I'm thinking about some new mods on myself and something like this would be a great one. But i have a few little questions. Of course you can take off the coil but the you can't turn off the magnets. My thought would be that in a regular town today there must be many signals and interferences that can affect your implants. Do you notice some predisposition for external influences or some other side effects? Maybe stress, headache, insomnia or mild hallucination?

    And what about the power consumption? This must exhaust any battery really quick. 
  • IanIan June 2013
    @Facesitting_Bull:  I have magnetic implants in my fingers, for the purpose of detecting electromagnetic fields, and after a while, it just becomes another sense like any other.  Just like with my sense of smell, most of the time I'm not directly thinking about my magnets; they just sit there, unobtrusively, waiting for a field to be picked up.
  • But that implants are in the fingers. Not one left and right of your brain with an induction coil around your neck. I can imagine there are some vulnerabilities.
    I'm generally fascinated of the idea but it appears unnecessarily risky to implant magnets when the same effect can be done by a magnet attached to a piercing at the same spot.
  • ThomasEgiThomasEgi June 2013
    @Facesitting_Bull the brain doesn't really react to any magnetic fields you'd encounter in your daily life. power consumtion is expected to be higher than that of in-ear headphones of course, but it is within limits. my guess would be well within single-digit wattage.
  • DirectorXDirectorX July 2013
    @Facesittingbull: I haven't encountered any interference yet. I have been under power lines and haven't got any static when playing songs on my playlist. Radio probably would fuzz up, just like it does in a car. I haven't encountered a situation where my ears suddenly picked up a signal or anything. The sensitivity in the tragus is much less than it is in the fingertips, so even AC fields are hardly notable.

    And yes, power consumption sucks right now. I'm scheming up a second implant that will reduce that by a lot though. Until that happens, you are right about the piercing being easier and better.

    In the end I want to use this with a voiceless speech technology, and I want it all subdermal. I changed my mind about the transdermals, even though they would look cool.
  • More magnets reduce power consumption?
  • SaalSaal July 2013
    Voiceless speech as in subvocalization? Now THAT would be cool.
  • DirectorXDirectorX July 2013
    @Facesitting_Bull: No, this implant I'm talking about will be a coil implant moved closer to the magnet. That's going to be the real test as far as interference goes.

    On that note, does anyone know if a series of 3 coils can be used for a resonant coupling? I've seen one coil coupled with 2 coils, but I haven't seen a chain of couplings where coil A supplies B which supplies C. I wonder if this is possible with my setup?
  • BenBen July 2013
    You mean A gives the signal, B takes it and repeats it to C?
    I don't think so, since B does not create a field (well, it does, but you can consider that one non-existant)
    So, A could supply B and C, that would be more realistic.

    I made another coil, this one about one third the diameter which again highly improves the signal. My next test will be with thinner wire and more loops.

    May I ask where you intend to get your signal from? If it is completely subdermal, there needs to be some sort of wireless connection. It could be done via induction again, with quite some losses. (A gives signal to B, B is actually two coils, so one coil takes the signal and the second one produces a new field)
    Or was that what you meant?

    Edit: adding a picture of what setup I mean:
  • iexiakiexiak July 2013
    "One cool thing: I plugged my ear with my finger that has the magnetic implant and music comes out of my fingertip. So cool."

    Is it possible that a magnet like this could be placed to resonate on larynx, like a vocal chord, and use the bodies natural resonance to amplify the sound?  I'm thinking of this as a method to allow mute people to speak via computer interface more naturally.

    To answer your question about a 3rd coil maybe this helps...I'm not well versed in the area but this seems to be a good research paper into it.  (figure 9 and beyond)

    I'm seeing a major problem though...It seems like all the coils are placed parallel to each other, where in your system you probably don't have the space for this..not sure how this would effect your output.
  • BenBen July 2013
    Having read that, I must admit, that I apparently was wrong. You can use a coil to repeat a signal (I guess I always thought the coils as being connected to a load itself). And that more efficiently, than I had thought.
    As iexiak mentioned, this might be difficult to accomplish with the space problem, since those repeater coils should be aligned. Not entirely sure how the resonance coils would handle changing frequencies, either.
    Will do more reading on this.
  • DirectorXDirectorX July 2013
    @iexiak good find. Thanks. That multiple coil thing could solve lots of problems. I'll play with it. I don't know if that would work for the vocal cords or not, but it would be awesome if it did. You should try it out.

    I know the coupling thing is delicate as far as aligning the coils just right. If chaining is possible I can see a way to use this to my advantage. <this is an idea, I know it presents more challenges>
    Multiple microphones pointed in different directions could send a signal into a coil. a receiving coil could be set up on my head so that looking in a certain direction would couple one coil and decouple others. This would be good for enhancing directional functions. Probably not very efficient on power, but it would be a cool feature.

    I'm wondering how flat spiral coils would work for coupling? Also, what do you guys think of this setup below? Too many amps?image
  • iexiakiexiak July 2013

    Tesla head.

    I wish I could try it out, maybe if I ever meet a mute grinder I'll propose it!

    MIT talks about powering multiple devices from one coil, though I don't know if it could be that accurate...It could be possible to put multiple magnets around the ear to achieve surround, or maybe just different sized magnets to achieve a wider sonic range..
  • Rich's video on "Headphone Implants":

  • DirectorXDirectorX July 2013
    So for the coil I'm liking this ferromagnetic ink is looking good. I know it isn't the best conductor, but it seems like it would be a good alternative to magnet wire. What do you guys think? I am concerned about the safety of the contents, especially if I go the tattoo route. I emailed the creator to see what he thinks.
  • BenBen July 2013
    How exactly would you want to tattoo a coil?
    Even if you get some conducting line tattoed, I don't see it acting as a coil. The power of a coil is depending on the number of loops (in this case at least). With only one loop you will not get a signal to your magnet...
  • mkabalamkabala July 2013
    I agree with Ben on this point.  I doubt that ferromagnetic ink could carry a sufficient current to generate a magnetic field strong enough to move the magnet.  Add to this the fact that skin makes a poor insulator at best, requiring you to provide an insulating layer between the ink and the skin to get the current to go where you want it to go without a huge amount of leakage current.

    The ideal placement of any type of coil would be concentric with the magnetic axis of your implant.  Take apart any $5 pair of earbuds and you'll see the coil arranged in just this way.  As you move away from this ideal position, the losses in the system increase proportional to the square of the distance between coil and magnet, assuming you keep the magnetic axes collinear.

    Now, I would assume that you want the electromagnet to be external to or as close to the surface of the skin as possible.  Given this constraint, I would recommend a small coil of traditional magnet wire located on or near the tragus.  A coil around the ear would also be feasible, but should have more turns of wire and/or greater drive current to compensate for the losses mentioned earlier.
  • ThomasEgiThomasEgi July 2013
    using permanently magnetic ink as a magnet may work. tatooing electric conductors to make coils is not realistic at this point.
  • geckogutgeckogut August 2013
    Couldn't the same procedure be done to the jaw bone to get the same effects? I'm not sure how much audio clarity you'd be sacrificing, but it's another thing to consider.

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