Data Storage Implant - WIP

Alright. So, I've been busy lately and as a result progress had been held up a bit, but several (like 4 or 5) days ago my wireless flash drive showed up. I ordered the 32 GB model for my initial testing and first time dismantling it (in case I damaged it and needed to order another) when I get to actually making one to implant it'll be the 200 GB model (or larger, keep reading). Yesterday I did some initial functionality tests, and finished this morning, basically I wanted to know everything about how it worked under normal circumstances. For the average person, it functions like a flash drive when plugged into a computer's USB port and has a little power button on the side that turns the built in wifi network on and off, when on, you can connect to it via anything and access contents via the iOS app or a built in website. You can also change settings like the auto-off timer and the network name and password.

For the more technical people, the wifi network access doesn't turn off when you plug it into a powered USB port or a computer's USB port (you can charge it with a simple wall adapter like you'd use for your phone if you wanted). However, while plugged in, if you turn it off with the power button or it turns off on it's own due to the timer running out, you can't turn it back on without unplugging it. When plugged in to a computer in the "off" mode, it appears to actually boot up the internal computer chip and serve the contents of the storage through that, so the computer doesn't actually have direct access like a normal flash drive. I didn't attempt to send a Formatting instruction to it, but I assume that the internal computer would refuse to format the storage chip if I had attempted to do so. Perhaps I'll try sometime. Multiple devices (up to 3 is advertised, I only tried 2 so I don't know how that claim holds up, I assume it is accurate and that you can't go over as it would simply refuse to connect additional devices) can be connected simultaneously and can communicate with each other while on the network (which I tested by utilizing BitTorrent Sync to share files over the network). The internal "shut off" timer appears to count from last time files or the website was accessed as my BitTorrent transfer was cut off roughly when the timer should have run out, I am a little confused about it though as the status light didn't actually change from the steady blinking it does when "on". It has one button, hold it for a moment to turn it on, hold it for a longer moment to turn it off. The status light stays on while it's booting up, which takes about 5 seconds. It blinks about twice in three seconds (mental count, not terribly accurate) at a steady rate when on. Blinks thrice rapidly when you hold the button to turn it off and then it turns off. The status LED turns orange when plugged in and charging, though it does still blink white if it's in the "on" state. If you turn it off while plugged in, it will take a moment and then boot up again in what I'll call "USB only" mode, where the wifi is off, but a device connected to the USB port could still access the contents through the internal computer chip. During the brief time it's off between shut down and auto boot up, the light is completely off. Also, it is possible that the LED is actually two, one orange and one white, but I think it's just a single multicolored light based on what it physically looks like. Only downside so far, aside from the slightly confusing auto-off function (which can just be disabled, and I have mine disabled now) is that the iOS app appears to be the only way to view the total available or consumed storage space and the only way to view the internal battery power level. (More on my fixes for those issues later.)

Today, just before I started writing this, I took it apart. Found a few things...
(I'll add pictures in a few hours and give some additional details)

The battery is 380 mAh and is stated to last 3 hours. I assume that's 3 hours with 1 device constantly accessing data wirelessly, we'll say streaming a video using the iOS app as an example, and no other devices connected. Assuming I go through with conveying this to be implantable, I'll likely consider downsizing the battery, or getting a physically smaller one of the same capacity if possible, as it seems rather large in my opinion.

The LED is REALLY bright in my opinion, when all the casing is removed and the LED is exposed, so I don't think there'll be any issue with seeing it through skin when we get to that point.

The internal "storage chip" is actually a MicroSD card held in place by two little metal clasps (that don't appear to be designed to be undone once clasped. Fortunately that means that I should be able to get just 32 GB ones (or possibly the elusive 16 GB model) and just swap out the SD card for a large one, up to 200 GB. Possibly bigger, which I will test, but there may be a hardware or software limitation preventing more than a 200 GB card from being used. Phones, up until a few months ago, were still commonly limited to 200 GB cards, I'll be honest, don't know what that limitation is caused by so I don't know if it can be worked around or not, but I'll get a bigger card and test that with this at some point.

Sans battery, the whole thing is thinner than the USB port that plugs into a computer for charging so if the Qi charger isn't too thick, and biocoating isn't too thick, I think the whole thing can be made thin enough to not bulge too much under the skin. With the battery it's about 150% the thickness of the USB port.

The wifi tech and internal computer chip appear to be housed inside a small metal Cover that is soldered on multiple sides to the silicon board, I will eventually remove said cover (or try to anyways) in an attempt to find out if the parts could be rearranged or made thinner.

While in the case, during my testing it never got very warm, I'm attributing that to the case, as I've had Standard flash drives get much warmer under normal circumstances. I haven't done any testing since removing it from the case except to confirm that it powered on and off normally (thus I'm assuming I haven't yet damaged anything and it still functions normally).

Pictures with comments on the pictures will follow in a few hours.


  • If I end up rigging a Qi chargers to it successfully (and a thermoelectric charger if possible) then I will also attempt to build some sort of status light into it to indicate charge level, which solves the issue of only being able to view the charge level from the iOS app.

    As for the total free/used storage space, well, keep rough track of how big your files are and you'll be fine. I do think there was something buried in the settings that allowed you to see that from the website, I'll check. No brilliant solution to that problem at the moment.

    Also, want to add that since it does just store everything on a MicroSD card, you can always just take it apart and plop the card into a phone or computer or whatever to access the contents should the internal computer or something fail, so the data loss worry is, well... not really a worry at the moment.
  • That sounds pretty well thought out. Very nicely done I can't wait to here what you come up with for the battery side.

    Have you considered a Reed switch to turn the wifi on and off? That way you can conserve battery when you are not using it.

    Is the big battery on the board and could you move it off to elongate the device while cutting down size or is the gain from doing that so minimal that it will make no difference?
  • Pictures now...
    (After noting how they look if I just insert them from a link, I've deicded it'll be better to just insert a hyperlink to the picture.)

    Here I adjusted the battery so it's next to instead of underneath the board. The MicroSD card is also visible.

    The metal plate on the board conceals what I assume is the internal computer system and the wifi tech. I intend on attempting to remove it and see what's underneath, but it's soldered in multiple places so that'll be tricky.

    I know taking a picture of a light isn't the same as looking at it, but that's the LED. (On a side note, catching a picture of a blinking light isn't easy.)

    I didn't think to take pictures before taking it apart, but there's the casing parts, they came apart fairly easily. They appeared to have a mild bit of adhesive in addition to the plastic clips. I do think I could reassemble it and have it look nearly the way it did before if I wanted to. There is a piece of copper tape (with a bit of insulating material on it) that held the battery in place and covered the exposed circuitry on the top side around the SD card (and the SD card).

    Here's some side view pictures, you'll note it's fairly thin and I'd like to keep it that way as much as possible for implanting.

    Here's the remaining photos I took, but didn't include above. In case something's more visible in one that I didn't note.

    Pardon the image quality, took them with my phone, so they're like... really high resolution, but the lighting isn't superb (thinking back on it, could have helped to put a piece of white paper underneath). (Oh and there's a phone-shadow in most of the pictures.)
  • really well thought out, how are you planning on charging this? i would be very interested in this when its built iv been looking for a data solution like this 
  • Thanks for the response, you posted while I was typing the last post there (which took a lot longer than I anticipated since I ended up setting up a new website just to host the pictures).

    I may move the battery to the end, or the side, instead of underneath. Depends exactly where I end up wanting it implanted, will need to think on that a bit.

    I do plan on using a reed switch in place of the one physical button there currently is.

    On a side note, some of the product descriptions seemed to suggest that the little plastic cap (which has a bit of metal in it) needs to physically be on in order for the wifi functionality to work. I can confirm, that is inaccurate. At first I thought maybe that bit of metal acts as the antenna, but it doesn't seem to do anything at all.

    Also, these are my first two posts (this and the prior one) from not my iPhone. I didn't realize how different the desktop version looked. On my iPhone the website looks fairly desktop oriented, which I prefer over a bad mobile site, but it doesn't look just like the actual desktop site does.
  • Another post while I was typing...

    I plan on building in a Qi charger (a wireless charging standard, the kind used in new wireless charging phones and some watches).

    If I can, I would also like to incorporate a Peltier Generator, which is a type of TEG (thermoelectric generator), which would charge the device from your body heat. It would go much slower than the Qi charger, but would mean that you wouldn't necessarily need an external device to charge the implant (which I feel is a must, even if the TEG takes a couple days to just get to a full charge).
  • edited October 2016
    It's still a little ways off, but my plan is to make 2 completed devices in the 32 GB size and send them both to someone else (from the forums here) to biocoat and test. Assuming that goes well and the devices are both still fully functional, I'll be convinced that I succeeded and will make at least one larger capacity (200 GB unless I end up finding out that I can go larger with a custom SD card) to have it biocoated prior to implanting. At that time, I may offer to make more, and sell them.

    I will probably do some testing with the 32 GB devices for a few days, using them, charging them, etc... after biocoating just to ensure that the biocoating didn't mess anything up. And I'll test my final device for functionality prior to implanting.

    EDIT: (And of course I'd also test any devices I sell prior to selling, if I end up doing that.)
  • that micro-sd card holder looks like you could slide the micro-sd card a tiny bit towards the usb connector to make it release the card.

    You should not remove the metal RF shield. It's purpose is to shield your RF circuitry. This prevents electromagnetic problems with nearby other circuits (such as the SD-card). Also, it protects the RF circuitry from getting affected by other EM radiation. Just leave it, or you may get unreliable operation under certain circumstances. Last thing you want is corrupted memory on an implanted device, or failure of circuits like the battery management etc. Same goes for that copper-wrap+insulator. Once you arranged your components to your liking be sure to shield them properly and ground the shield. With the exception of your antenna and the QI-charging coil you want no parts outside the shield. You may need to guide the magnetic field with a special magnetic shieldy like thing to prevent the copper shield from blocking your charging. Detials about this can be found in a number of Qi-circuit related application notes. 

    If you can't hold your horses and want to remove that metal cover, be sure to take pictures of the chips inside. Maybe it contains some nice cortex m0 or simmilar chip that could be reprogrammed to serve additional needs.

  • edited October 2016
    I was thinking about it last night and will likely peal back the cover just to see what's behind it. Any finished product will have it in place. Good thought about the copper tape acting as shielding, I figured it was copper tape just because it's thinner than traditional heat-resistant electrical tape, but if that were the only thing, then the small amount of adhesive most electronic parts have would have probably been sufficient in the manufacturing process. Anyways, I have a couple rolls of copper tape available and will re wrap the components. (I can't just leave the existing tape in place as it also does most of the holding of the battery in place, there is also a small amount of adhesive that holds the battery.)

    My next few steps will involve...
    Removing the shield cover, just for fun, to see what's behind it, end products will have it still soldered in place.
    Experimenting with larger SD cards, including a 256 GB one, to determine if the 200 GB maximum capacity is limited by the rest of the device or just that they never bothered to make a higher capacity version.
    Qi Charger. Which I'll probably add using a DIY kit designed for adding to phones, end results may go with slightly more custom Qi charger assemblies, depending on the size I can achieve.
    Once the Qi charger is completely functional, (which is necessary I think for the final product) I will do some experimenting with TEG charging (which is optional, but I think it'd be nice to have if possible).
  • Have you considered the possibility of being unable to access it once it's implanted? The skin is notorious for causing problems with waves passing through it like GPS and Bluetooth. I wouldn't be concerned about accessing it with your phone but connecting to WiFi may be spotty.
  • What do you mean? You access it by connecting to it via Wifi. I considered that the range may be reduced, but if it's accessible from a 15 foot radius, that ought to be sufficient for the typical phone or computer access, I don't think it'll be big problem, wifi tends to be stronger than Bluetooth or gps signals when passing through matter like walls. There's not really any way to test that until it's implanted. Like the TEG, some things just can't be tested prior to implanting it. Not tested properly anyways.
  • awesome work so far jupiter im really intrested to see were this goes in the near future 
  • Well you kinda have a way to test it but it isn't really for sensitive people.....animal analogs would be a decent test subject for penetrating the skin. If you spot a road kill just snag it make a pocket and stuff that bad boy in and bam you have an implanted deer. Give it a solid range test and see.
  • I assume you're joking...

    What the heck kind of idea is that? You have a very peculiar mind there...

    How does surrounding it with raw meat sound? Like chicken breast or ground beef? I know that sounds odd, but I'm starting to think it's worth doing some sort of range test prior to implanting it anyways. Though, I figure if there would be any reduction in range it would be minor, else we'd know about it by know. Heck, holding my phone close to my body or in my pocket would likely have a similar effect (less so, of course) on my phone's range.

    Here's what I'll do, I'll do some range testing and compare it with specialized wifi routers (of which I have a few from major and minor brands) to see how the range holds up. If it ends up being similar to the typical 50-100 feet (depending on walls and such) I'll assume it'll be fine over the 15 feet or so I expect would be typical for implanted use. Of course, the walls in a building typically have high voltage electrical wires and things running through them that likely interfere more than any part of the body would. Still, I see the concern.
  • I'd like to add a couple details (more for record purposes in the event I end up not doing something).

    I need to get my hands on one or more small magnets (preferably actual implantable ones) to test range and magnetic interference for the reed switch. Since that will be a somewhat mandatory control method in order to use the finished device. Also, not to self... need to get around to getting one implanted...

    To accommodate the lack of a battery level viewing method without an iOS device, I'd like to incorporate a second reed switch (the two will likely be on the opposite ends of the device so they're easy to locate and trigger when under the skin) to check battery level via a second (in addition to the already built in one) LED. In order to do more than just determine if the battery has any charge at all (that is, check approximate battery charge percentage), I may end up attempting to incorporate an arduino chip (because it'd probably end up more space efficient than any sort of constructed-by-me charge-checker circuit). Will likely leave the feature out altogether and just do a simple LED to determine if there is any charge in the battery and if the battery is actively charging should the arduino take too much space. I feel something is necessary to diagnose why you may have a difficulty or issue connecting when you think it's turned on. Like it isn't turning on. Could help determine if the battery is low, or if you're simply not triggering the reed switch properly.

    Also, in response to recent discussion about standardizing certain "safe" implant parts, I do intend to do some sort of experimenting with 3D printed (likely aluminum) shells to contain the battery. This is as a safety precaution in the event the battery malfunctions, heats up, leaks, melts, combusts, etc... while inside a body. The aluminum would hopefully contain any leaked acid long enough to have the implant removed. Unfortunately I have no good ideas for determining if such a leak has occurred.

    Feedback desired:
    What sort of battery life (per charge) is acceptable for this sort of thing? Obviously if you wanted to stream a movie or something, 150 minutes would be a nice minimum to have, but battery size is also a concern (I want a as-little-bulge-as-possible implant). I figure if you don't ever need to do something like steam a movie, and you use the device primarily for mobile device backup or excess photo storage while on the go, and you only do things like copy a movie from the device to your phone or whatever to watch the whole thing without needing the device to be constantly on, shorter battery life is reasonable. What do you think? What sort of uses would you have. I know when I go on vacation (particularly site seeing vacation) I tend to like to document everything. Taking literally hundreds of pictures a day is common, and with camera resolution increasing just as fast as phone storage space, I'm often running out of room, and being able to offload pictures to something that I have with me but don't need to remember to carry with me all the time is a high priority use for me. Particularly in foreign countries where wifi isn't so common and cellular data is more expensive (thus rendering the internet a poor backup location).
  • I'm not joking usually human analogs are pigs but if you don't have access to it anything would likely work. I say a larger animal simply because it's easier to work a pocket into and reseal. It's a lot better then a chicken breast size wise and workability.
  • Give it a rough coating once you get to that stage and then slap it in.
  • Sorry can't edit from the phone. You could zip lock it instead to test it sooner.
  • considering the size of the battery and the possibility of a thermo-electric generator, if the generator is working all the time while using the device or not the batter life could hopefully be a full day, if it was a full day ( give or take a few hours) at the end of the day you could chill out and ware the QI charger for an hour or two, if that dosent fill up the battery then going to sleep and letting the TEG work might charge the rest, for all of that assuming the TEG is something that could work.
  • edited October 2016
    @Meanderpaul I'll put you on my shortlist for one of the two prototype devices for testing.
    PS I can edit things on my phone just fine. What sort of phone are you using?

    @lolsmcfee "All day" isn't very specific I'm afraid, will it last all day, constantly streaming data, no where near that. Will it be able to be on all day so you could connect to it and stream data if you wanted to, probably close to it. Though it'd be "all day" similar to watches a year ago, that is. It'd be like, "all day" could be all of a work day while you're out. So roughly 8 hours. I'll do some testing, but I fully expect the TEG will take a full 36-48 hours to completely charge the battery. Depends on the size of the battery, and exactly how much power the generator makes. Which I'll test soon, gotta order more parts before I can do much else.
  • So, for battery failure testing, I recommend a few things. First, a thermal sensor connected to something that will alert you if temperature gets too high. Another would be a capacitor connected to a circuit that will fire off a certain signal whenever the battery runs totally dead. And finally, some sort of reactive sensor that will signal whenever the chemicals present in the battery are detected.
  • Ya let me know lol it could take me a little while to get a critter so let me know a couple weeks ahead of time.
  • Thermal sensor, good idea. Can connect that to the arduino chip. Thinking Arduino Gemma Board would be best. Never done any project like this with arduino though, so I'll admit that it's a little bit of a mystery right now how I'm going to make all this fit and not be too large. Not sure what purpose that capcitor would serve. Could momentarily light an LED, but that only helps if you're looking at it when the battery runs out. More likely I think I'll do my LED that's going to indicate approximate battery charge level (if I can do that in a small manner) else it will merely indicate if there is any charge at all by being as directly connected to the battery as possible. So that triggering the reed switch can power the LED without doing much else. To check for battery power. The chemical sensor... might be too complicated for the moment. If you want to built something that's around the size of a corn kernel, go ahead. I'll add it in. Else, perhaps a future revision with more safety features.
  • A chem sensor is no different than a thermal sensor. You just need to replace it if the battery goes
  • And i ment all day as just being on and ready to stream data, i would turn it off whenever im not using it myself though
  • You'll need a large temperature delta to generate any sort of power from one of those peltier generators, and you won't have that once it's implanted.
  • @ightden I have done some testing and believe a variance of 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit is sufficient to power an LED. Don't know how long that would take to charge the battery, but I figure, if it's off... no matter how long it takes, a little power is better than no power. And if it turns out to be nearly useless, perhaps I'll omit it from any versions I make for other people, but I do want to include it in my version such that I can have it implanted and test it to be sure. (On a side note, any heat over 96 degrees generated by the device while in use should increase power output from the generator, which (since the device would be on at the time) wouldn't necessarily charge the battery, but it certainly could increase usage time a bit. Maybe.)

    @TheGreyKnight Alright. Didn't know that. To be fair, never looked at or used one. A chemical sensor that is.
  • Little update, ordered more parts. Should arrive in about a week. Then I'll be working on Qi charging implementations. Got several different DIY "kits" (which I intend on dismantling) to test with and still hope to have the final product using a custom built one to fit the shape of the rest of the implant, so it doesn't take up too much space.
  • You won't get a temperature difference of 5-10 degrees on an implanted device except under very specific circumstances. Eventually yes, incorporating this into implants with heat generating components is something to consider, but again if the implant is running 10 degrees hotter than internal body temperature you're going to have a bad time.

    I'd focus on the wireless charging first so as to run testing, then incorporate the fail-safe features as mentioned above. At that point you'll have a functional proof of concept for a first-get device.
  • @Jupiter
    any updates? Did your parts arrive already?
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