The Northstar has Landed

From Facebook 

We're proud to formally introduce Northstar Version 1, a magnet activated, LED-equipped silicon device from Grindhouse Wetware, implanted today in synchronous procedures at NRW Forum in Düsseldorf, Germany and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Follow us to stay tuned for videos of the implantation and information on pre-orders, coming soon!



  • Awesome, would love details on the power side of things
  • Tell me about the coatings of your people.
  • Saw one of these devices at Grindfest - pretty awesome. There's a magnetic switch that allows you to turn it off/on, and a battery on the other side of the device which is not pictured.
  • So this system is designed to be a gesture recognition platform with the LED's as the feedback, right? What's the code running under the hood?
  • Nope. That's the next incarnation. This one is much simpler. Basically flashy lights only. It was designed for aesthetics. I was talking to Mack about this last night in fact... one might criticise that it isn't doing anything other than being an aesthetic unit. Yeah, like tatoos right? No market there eh? Not only is it cool in it's own right... Imagine what's possible with the kind of funding this thing is going to generate. I'd bet the next model is out rapidly. I haven't decided whether I want to place it in my hand or not though. I'm thinking of doing a posterior forearm honestly. We'll see. I've been talking to Grindhouse regarding a shipment of these out for the next Grindfest but no idea on pricing etc. yet.

    Something else to consider... there is sure to be some interesting backlash towards the community on this. I think we all need to stand together as advocates. At some point, someone is going to notice what we're doing bringing in things like regulation etc.
  • I'd be all over one with 3 LEDs in a triangle, underneath a Triforce tattoo on the back of my hand.
  • Personally I feel like that's a lot of hand trauma for not much return, but I fully stand behind the information to be gained from the real life testing of larger subdermals and coatings.

    I would also say the fact that it does nothing will go farther towards acceptance. People will be quicker to accept a fashion accessory than an RFID, (I've seen enough "GOV TRACK THROUGH SAT-CHIPS?!?!?" threads on those), and it's visually interesting enough to make a buzz.
  • Still want to know some details on the power setup - does it have an inductive charging setup? What kind of battery is it using?
  • I agree with Cass on making sure everyone has their ish together (paraphrasing obviously ;).  The forum is our sandbox. We get to play and say whatever we want here. But outside we need to support each other and keep sensible heads on our shoulders.
  • @garethnelsonuk the implant runs off a CR2325 lithium coin cell, with a capacity of 190mAh. not much but it gets you tens of thousands of uses, several days of lights-on time. it is not rechargeable.

    @glims it's coated in 0.125mm parylene-c, under 1mm silicone.
  • Nothing wrong with a modern aesthetic change :)
  • I would love to hear how the biocoating was applied and where it was acquired from
  • Is it only available in a circle or could other shapes be made? (I.e. Lines,stars)
  • While I support Grindhouse and think this is a good step toward one day making useful implants. There are a number of reasons why I won't be getting one myself.
    But I am still very interested in hearing more details about the current design, and in seeing updates on how the implants heal etc.
  • If these are just LEDs and a reed switch, what is that QFP?
  • This is great. Those of you with Northstars implanted, thanks for taking one for the team and letting us know how well they hold up. 

    I could see lights like these getting to be very popular once the induction charging is going strong.
  • How thick are they?
  • edited November 2015
    @gbit parylene is laid down by vacuum deposition. the silicone was cast and then machined into shape, but in future, will be injection molded. We made an agreement so I can't give you specifics, unfortunately, but a quick google will turn up many companies equivalent to the one we used. is a small and agreeable example. They will coat your stuff, no questions asked. minimum order is usually around $1k.

    @Meanderpaul it's only available in a circle, but we are talking to some folks who want to place that circle inside larger silicone forms, any shape you like. the two silicone layers will provide great mechanical resilience.

    @ElectricFeel the QFP is an ATMega328-P. it's overkill for this design, but friendly and low-power. We use PWM to make the lights more efficient. This would be difficult to achieve without a controller. If we were going for sheer simplicity, we could have made the device much smaller (and we might, in the future. LED in an RFID tube, anyone?), but we also wanted to see how devices of this size interact with the body. We knew that northstar V2 would be around this size long before we completed V1.

    @BodyHackingCon thanks! you won't have to wait long. we've got wireless power up and running in the lab, and we'll make our designs available to everyone when we're ready to go commercial. (Our Qi charger can fit on the back of a penny, with room to spare.)

    The biggest difficulty with this project wasn't electrical design so much as learning to work with other companies, and the ins and outs of mass production. Our first attempt at a parylene coating run ended up destroying 50 northstar units. That would have been a very expensive mistake if we'd been using complex hardware.

    @ChilliEye they are 6.5mm thick.
  • "Our Qi charger can fit on the back of a penny, with room to spare"

    Me wanty
  • edited November 2015
    Until we get something better than Lithium-Ion, I guess the next best thing would be to start at a good charger. I can't wait to see a Qi charger that small

    I wonder if you could ever make it flexible. Of course repeated flexing and bending would eventually lead to failure.

    These intrigue me though
    and also 


  • I hope v2 has blue LEDs as an option too.
  • Takin orders yet?
  • So how many hands have needed amputation?
  • Yea what's the rejection rate on that? Those stichs look like there about to be yanked apart.... What happens when the battery dies? Also the hand seems like a really bad place to put something like this, do to all the movement of skin the back of the hand experiences....
  • Hmm, what about the one guy/woman who inplanted it in their forearm area? I wonder how that one is doing..
  • An implanted battery seems like the bulkiest and riskiest part of the device. Have you considered wireless charging and a supercapacitor? There's a 0.1F one sitting on a MSP430FR5969 Launchpad right in front of me and it's not that big - 10mm diameter and 4mm thick. I'd much rather have that under my skin than Lithium Ion.

    Obviously a supercapacitor is nothing like 190mAh but it would charge *really* quickly so even if you only got a day or two's use out of it before recharging it would be too problematic.
  • Supercapacitors are larger for any value of power. Any supercap you find, there's a lithium battery the same size with more power density until you get to the really tiny ranges. They also don't store enough energy for running LEDs for more than a few minutes, or for operating a vibration motor. The bluetooth alone would drain any supercap smaller than a battery in seconds to minutes.
  • lol you're just building a shitty capacitor then. The ones I've seen are thousands of times better than anything on the market currently. Although many of those are really expensive. And I'll be releasing my own in a few months. They're only shitty because people use activated charcoal or actelyene black to make them. That'll get you about 800-1000 farads tops. Using something like nanotubes or graphene pushes that up by significant fractions. If you wanna be impressed go look at robert murray smiths work. Thiner than a credit card and flexible as hell. I'm seeing if I can beat his record and cram even more power in there. Everything I'm using to make mine is pretty much inert so you could practically eat it. I wouldn't mind you, but point being, these are the future and lithium is going the way of the dinosaurs. Gonna have an implant version by march hopefully. 
  • edited January 2016
    What the heck do you do for a living? I ask because you seem to have a lot of free time....
  • I can't seem to find any published specifications on Murray's stuff, but it doesn't seem to be the silver bullet you're claiming it is.

    If the credit card supercap is this one, it's not thinner than a creditcard, it appears to be several times thicker. It just has a slightly smaller outline. With a capacity of 2000F and an assumed voltage of 2.7V, that's 7290J of energy. Compare that to this lipo, which is 2cm shorter than a credit card, but otherwise similar to the one he displays in terms of thickness, and the amount of energy it stores : 26690J. It's not even close.

    For reference, the volume of an ISO standard credit card with a thickness of 1mm is 4.62cm3

    An off the shelf lipo battery like this one is pretty tiny, 110mAh at 3.7V which works out to around 1465.2J in 1.92cm3 (less than half the volume of a credit card)

    An equivalent capacitor needs to be 402F, assuming a working voltage of 2.7V. Can you make acap that small?

    Two other points; unless you can get a capacitor that operates at or above 3.7V, you can pretty much write off using a simple MCU with your implant. It's just not feasible to add a boost regulator to an implant. Secondly, an overvolted supercap will breakdown and emit gasses much like any other power storage medium, although less violently than a lipo.
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