implant for a better sense of time

hello. A while ago, my friend and I had an idea for an implant that would give a signal regularly (probably every 30 seconds or minute). The hope is that you would eventually subconsciously keep track of it, getting a much better (hopefully near perfect) sense of time. Could this work? is anyone aware of it or something similar being tried?


  • I have not but if/when you develop a good enough product, let me know because I'm super OCD about knowing what time it is at all times. Its actually pretty annoying at times but if you guys come up with a way to constantly know what time it is, please hit me up. It would soothe my psycho side so much, lol.
  • You could make a watch for prototyping something like a shock pen and a timer would de ware I would start....
  • I'm almost positive that this conversation has existed before... hang on...

    no wait... here

    aaaand for the golden oldie, here

    and this one is useful too

    happy reading :D

  • clock circuits are the most simple implant that feature implant>body communication. I have working circuits for driving a small electrode to do that. Whats basically missing is a coating for the implant that bonds to the stainless steel electrodes,too.
  • @kazikhopper  wouldn't a regular beet get edited out by your perception? same way we cant hear our own heart beat?
  • You can't hear your heart because it's not that loud. especially compared to the general background noise. You can feel your heart just fine though, but you don't always pay attention to it. i figure this would be the same thing. It's always there but you can ignore it or pay attention.
  • @chironex your heartbeat is not so faint you can't hear it, if you sit quietly you can hear it but even a minor distraction and it vanishes until you can "find" it again.

    But you're right it's the not paying attention that I meant, anything regular enough to serve as a fine grained indicator of time would be something you'd end up not noticing unless you stopped to think about it. 

    The idea that you'd stop consciously noticing it but subconsciously it would impact your sense of time is the part I'm questioning.

    Time perception is heavily influenced by how and what your thinking about and your brain does a lot of "editing" to line things up. For instance we process auditory and visual input at different rates, but we never notice the disconnect.

    One of the best examples of this is TV, when it was first being built the engineers could not get the sound to sync perfectly with the picture, which was a problem until they found that any gap under 120ms was not noticeable by humans, we edit the experience to match the perception. 

    If the signal changed over time however then not only would you be more aware of the passage of time but you could from the signal know how much time had passed since you last paid it attention...

    Something like a binary clock?

  • I'm somewhat opposed to the idea of something that's constantly signalling your body's senses in some way that isn't controllable, but a small implanted device that was triggered by a reed switch to pulse the time in binary or morse code could be nice. As far as getting people to have a better on-going sense of how rapidly time is passing, that's somewhat challenging, my thoughts would be that you'd come to not constantly notice it, like a heart beat, or the sound of your air conditioner or a fan, you may notice when it turns on or off, but while it's running, you don't give it any mind. However, feel free to experiment yourself, my opinion is just that a sort of "silent watch" that could tell you the time when triggered, would be better, even if that trigger is automated every 5 minutes or so.
  • i'm a big fan of imprecision, so i'm curious if there wouldn't be a clever way to combine this concept with a firefly tattoo, essentially integrating a tiny geiger counter to drive a haptic response within the implant.
  • A repeated stimulus would probably eventually cause habituation, the same reason we don't notice our heartbeat or consciously feel the clothes we wear throughout the day. However, I don't know to what extent this would occur or how long it may take if the stulimulus changes every hour. Also, my biggest concern is sleep. It may be very disruptive if you have something vibrating under your skin every hour, unless you could turn out off. Just something to consider.
  • Here's a test for you if you would like to see what the getting used to it is all about.

    Pick a section of you body that has hair and is In contact with clothing. I suggest a shirt personally. Shave it down, then walk around with a shirt on. You feel it rubbing and catching for about the first few hrs then it goes away.

    Just a little thing you can do to see what the whole debate is about for growing used to it. Also for me it's the shoulders that work in my case.
  • yet there are applications such as those compass ankle cuffs where even though your body becomes accustomed to the vibration, you retain a 'sense' of magnetic north.
  • You naturally can set your internal compass up. I can always find north with no compass in the north east. That is something you really don't need a bracelet for.
  • Humans don't naturally have a magnetic sense. There are animals that do, but even if you can orient yourself well from your surroundings, that's not the same as what a North Paw-esque device does.

    The thing with the North Paw is that it's easy to interpret the stimulus, and it actually never does get habituated off, it just becomes less perceivable as you adjust to it and gradually gain an intuitive sense of magnetic north. The vibration of the north paw motor against your skin is strong enough that your nerve cells won't actually habituate to it.

    Time seems somewhat harder of a sense to impart via neuroplasticity; rather than just a directional signal that you can discreteize to one of 8 possible settings, you presumably want at least 24 possible settings, and they need to be obvious enough apart that you can tell the difference.

    Maybe you could do something like this with a North Paw (with 12 motors instead of 8), where each point represented an hour. This would get you most of the way there; you could do something like squeeze the bracelet tighter as the hour went on, or increase/decrease the vibration frequency, to try to tell time within the hour.

    I'm not really convinced you would adapt to this the same was as a North Paw though; the North Paw has a continuous learning schedule (essentially) where you can turn and immediately feel a difference, so I feel like it would be easier for your brain to learn the association between vibration point and direction. This isn't continuous, so I wonder if you would learn it. You would also have to use a larger part of your body than the north paw; presumably the sensory resolution around your ankle isn't high enough to have 12 discrete points. Would work as a belt, though, or a chest strap sort of thing.

    The North Paw was inspired by actual research, though. The challenge now is to see if that lab or others has done anything on this topic in particular.

    I think the lowest-hanging fruit is just anything that vibrates at an increasing frequency over the course of an hour. You'd notice the downshift when it stepped from the highest frequency to the lowest frequency, so you'd know when the hour changed, and you'd have an intuitive sense (hopefully) of the time within the hour. This is sort of a haptic Franklin clock.
  • @onlytworoads

    I like the idea of a vibrating implant but a constant signal would draw a lot more power.

  • @Dr_Allcome Sure, but that doesn't mean the sense is practically usable. The north paw-type devices are.

    To put it another way, regardless of what a description of a not-yet-peer-reviewed study shows, I really doubt anyone trying to orient themselves absolutely via human magnetoreception would be able to do so. They probably wouldn't do better than chance, whereas a north paw wearer obviously would.
  • @onlytworoads I totally agree, If humans have a magnetosense its obviously not something demonstrably useful or it would have been proved long before now.

    I posted the link more for interest than anything else.

    Understanding it might in future allow us to turn it into something useful, but for right now if we want abilities like that we need to build them ourselves :)

  • This might be a bit far reaching, but what about a contact lense with an led that blinks every 30 seconds? Similar to the neuromancer character "molly" who has a digital time display on her implanted eye piece.


    This technology was in the prototype stages when these articles were written. Not sure If this doctor is still working on them. Anyone out there knowledgeable in MEMS/optoelectronics???

Sign In or Register to comment.