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implanted earphones

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.


Displaying comments 1 - 30 of 79
  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Simply awesome. How was the implant done? Is it a subdermal in the tragus?
  4. 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.
  5. Awesome. Have you even passed a magnet near it yet to feel it pull?
  6. How long do you think it will take to heal enough to start playing?
  7. 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?
  8. 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. 
  9. @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).
  10. 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!
  11. 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.
  12. 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?
  13. 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?
  14. 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?
  15. 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. 
  16. Rich, this is amazing. You're awesome :)
  17. 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.
  18. @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?

  19. @DirectorX: - 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 :)
  20. 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!
  21. 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.

  22. 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.
  23. @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**
  24. 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).
  25. @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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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?
  28. 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?
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
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