Tragus Implants

Hey guys! So I’ve heard a lot of talk about tragus implants but surprisingly haven’t seen much discussion of them. I’m interested in it, but I’m fuzzy about the details.

I don’t think there’s any professionals around me who could do it, so I’m gonna try doing one of my tragus myself, and see how it turns out. Magnet implant procedures in fingers have been discussed to no end, but I was wondering if anyone had any resources or information about it. Thanks!
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  • Hey @trroyyc

    A user named Vicarious on the DT forums has been experimenting with that lately (not sure what his handle is on here, but he has more than a dozen implants so he's certainly here somewhere.) He used the recently produced xG3, which is encapsulated in glass and injected with a syringe, and implanted it in his tragus. He said he got pretty good sound quality when he made a somewhat janky amplifier/coil necklace.

    I would advise against DIY tragus implant. You should at least get another person to help you out. If the format is an injector it'll be a bit easier. Also, it seems like there's fewer nerve endings around there than in a hand, so topical anesthetic will probably work if you let it sit long enough to penetrate. Just be super careful applying force with sharp things around your ears. You need them for hearing, and stuff.
  • @Satur9 said:
    Hey @trroyyc

    A user named Vicarious on the DT forums has been experimenting with that lately (not sure what his handle is on here, but he has more than a dozen implants so he's certainly here somewhere.) He used the recently produced xG3, which is encapsulated in glass and injected with a syringe, and implanted it in his tragus. He said he got pretty good sound quality when he made a somewhat janky amplifier/coil necklace.

    I would advise against DIY tragus implant. You should at least get another person to help you out. If the format is an injector it'll be a bit easier. Also, it seems like there's fewer nerve endings around there than in a hand, so topical anesthetic will probably work if you let it sit long enough to penetrate. Just be super careful applying force with sharp things around your ears. You need them for hearing, and stuff.

    I was looking into getting two xG3's for this purpose, but they're out of stock for the time being and the reason I need these is time sensitive. I'll definitely have a friend there to lend a hand but there's few people I trust to be using a scalpel around my ear, haha.

    Also, considering the size of the xG3 as a lifting magnet, would it be more efficient to use smaller magnets for the implant? Not to mention I'd imagine you'd be able to get it much closer to the inside of the ear which would maybe allow for clearer quality and a smaller power consumption to create the same level of vibration. I wish Vicarious had posted a video because at this point I think I'm going to treat it like a fingertip implant, in terms of depth.

  • edited August 6
    While you wait for the second batch of xG3, get some magnet wire and a cheap amplifier breakout board online and try it out. You can just put a small magnet in your ear canal. Let us know how it turns out.
  • @Satur9 said:
    While you wait for the second batch of xG3, get some magnet wire and a cheap amplifier breakout board online and try it out. You can just put a small magnet in your ear canal. Let us know how it turns out.

    Ordered all the parts, except for the amplifier breakout board. I don't know too much about microcontrollers so I'm having trouble finding one that suits my needs (has audio jack, can be powered with 9 volt battery). I'll keep looking, but if anyone has some advice/tips or just knows more about microcontrollers, feel free to point me in the right direction!

  • Hey @trroyyc

    I saw your post on DT. Here's the amplifier board that Vicarious used (Velleman PMK190)
    https://www.amazon.com/Velleman-MK190-2X5W-Amplifier-Player/dp/B007K2N0ZI

    You'll also need some magnet wire to wind into a coil. Some 20AWG should be fine.
  • @Satur9 said:
    Hey @trroyyc

    I saw your post on DT. Here's the amplifier board that Vicarious used (Velleman PMK190)
    https://www.amazon.com/Velleman-MK190-2X5W-Amplifier-Player/dp/B007K2N0ZI

    You'll also need some magnet wire to wind into a coil. Some 20AWG should be fine.

    You are an angel. A true saint. Thank you so much!! I purchased everything else, got some 30AWG magnet wire so I should be able to make a pretty powerful solenoid.

  • I have an xG3 on the way. I'm going to have it installed in the tragus for sound transmission. I'll let you know how it goes. Keep us updated on yours. We should keep this thread going with details, because I know a couple people have been asking about this recently.
  • Just got done with the magnet implantation. We decided it would interesting to experiment with the placement of the magnets, so my right one is deeper into my tragus, parallel and relatively close to my ear canal, while my left one is more superficial to my tragus and slightly farther from my ear canal than the right one. My amp board came in today so I'll give it maybe two weeks of healing before I start to experiment with the solenoid. Will keep this updated!

  • edited August 23

    Update: I just placed an order for an xG3. I'm going to remove one of the ones I currently have, let it heal, and install the xG3 so I can compare typical disc 3mm*1mm n52's with the xG3.

    With one in each ear, I think it should be easier for me to give less biased reports of disc magnets vs the xG3, since otherwise we would be trying to compare our subjective experiences. If the xG3 proves to be more efficient then the disc magnet I currently have, I'll replace that one too.

    I should have thought about this before implanting the discs in both ears, but I was only just aware that the xG3's were back in stock. Oh well!

  • I love this idea. I'm interested in trying a non-surgical version of this, by placing a disk magnet on the hairless area behind the ear and using Pros-Aide (a somewhat permanent skin adhesive) to keep it there. This would actually be bone conduction, but I have no idea how well it would work.

  • @CodeRedBerryBomb

    Thanks for the heads up on the Pros-Aide. I've never encountered that material before. I'll have to get some and try it out. I've been wanting to create a sub-dermal digital clock implant, but the logistics have been a bit daunting. Maybe v0.1 can be a Pros-Aide adhered unit.
  • Definitely look into it!! I was just checking out the Adhear which is a non-surgical adhesive bone conducting speaker that goes behind the ear. Unfortunately it is a medical device so I can't imagine it would be easy to obtain unless you had hearing loss.

    Regardless, a non-surgical audio relay system would have some traits that could be beneficial over implanted audio relay systems, like tragus implants. If you don't have to worry about toxicity of the magnet, you don't need special coated magnets. Just some non-toxic coating that won't absorb through the skin. You could use any number of sizes and shapes that just aren't feasible for implanting, due to coatings and size/shape restrictions, and it would be a hell of a lot cheaper than the medical grade coatings on the magnets used for implants.

    It MIGHT be more efficient to adhere to magnet to the inside of the ear, but then you'd have more restrictions on size and shape. But if it's inside the ear, I imagine you could get both bone conduction and air vibration. I don't know if that's useful for anything, but it is something to keep in mind.

    In the meantime, I'm gonna take some time to experiment with the two disc magnets I have in the coming weeks, document, then switch one of them out for xG3 and experiment.

  • @trroyyc The Adhear's location and method of attachment is actually what got me thinking about it haha! I've already bought some plain gold-coated magnets, I'm gonna test it with just taping it behind my ear first (as Pros-Aide requires some pretty gnarly removal liquid, it's safe it just would suck if it didnt work at all and I then had to spend 40m trying to get the bastard off).

  • @Satur9 Yeah, Pros-Aide is pretty cool stuff. Make sure to get some of the removal liquid too, otherwise it can and will rip layers of skin off. It's strong. I've not seen any data on exactly how long it will last though, it will come off eventually due to the replacement of skin cells. Could be anywhere from a few days to maybe a week or more. But, if this is effective, I'd probably prefer this to surgical methods (I've next to no pain tolerance and blood makes me squeamish, sucks)

  • Anyone have an idea of how many coils to use in my solenoid? It's 30AWG so I can coil it a LOT but I don't know if there's a point where it is too much.

  • @trroyyc
    Working on that, I'll get back to you with results early next week.

    I think it has to with the relationship between the Inductance of the coil, and the resistance of the wire that makes up the coil. The "time constant" of a RL circuit is

    τ = L / R

    It takes 5 time constants for the circuit to transition from full charge to no charge. So I think we want a circuit with a time constant that is ~ 1/5 of the lowest frequency sound we're interested in hearing (60Hz?) So that we have good frequency response and no sounds get drowned out.

    The problem is that the more turns of wire we do the more Inductance, and also the more resistance. They're connected in this case. If the Inductance climbs dramatically higher than the resistance, then we may need to attach a high wattage resistor in series to drop the time constant down to where we need it.

    I'm not certain all of this makes sense for our use case, I'm not an audio engineer. We'll figure it out, though. If anyone has any input on making speakers, please chime in.
  • I implanted an xG3 in my tragus a few weeks ago, and the recovery went well. My install was from the top, so when it healed it migrated upward a bit.

    I bought this amplifier board:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B07GPJG2D5
    The amp outputs 6W. The Bluetooth and battery charging work well. I haven't finished my coil yet. I did some research to find out how they make voice coils. It needs the be large enough to fit around someone's head, and have enough impedance in the target frequency range that it won't get hot. I still need to do more calculations and testing to balance the resistance, inductance, and stray capacitance of the coil to get the correct impedance for this amp.

    I modeled a coil former necklace and 3D printed it. I ended up using some 38AWG magnet wire I had lying around, but getting it to stay in the channel in the coil form is proving to be difficult.

    I put the project aside for a few days due to frustration. I'll let you know how it goes.
  • @CodeRedBerryBomb said:
    @Satur9 Yeah, Pros-Aide is pretty cool stuff. Make sure to get some of the removal liquid too, otherwise it can and will rip layers of skin off. It's strong. I've not seen any data on exactly how long it will last though, it will come off eventually due to the replacement of skin cells. Could be anywhere from a few days to maybe a week or more. But, if this is effective, I'd probably prefer this to surgical methods (I've next to no pain tolerance and blood makes me squeamish, sucks)

    In the end have you experimented with that? It really sounds very interesting what you propose. I still have doubts about the fidelity of the sound, but your idea is really excellent.

  • To test I just cannibalized an existing speaker and hooked the voice coil up to my Bluetooth amp. Held it about an 2cm away from the tragus and oh gods was the sound quality good. So much better than I expected. It worked from any angle as well, so I didn't need to hold the axis of symmetry of the coil parallel to the dipole of the magnet like I expected. I guess because the magnetic field is like a big bubble and you're just vibrating the bubble.

    I'm still working on the larger coil to wear around my neck, but this was a valuable and exciting proof of concept. The voice coil did get hot, so I'll probably need to wind a higher impedance one for the neck version. Here's the specs on the amp and voice coil I used for this experiment, just in case anyone wanted some data points to reference:

    [Amp]
    Wattage: 6W
    Pk-Pk @max volume: 1.1V

    [Voice Coil]

    Diameter: 13.8mm
    Height: 3mm
    DC Resistance: 9Ω
    Inductance: 59uH
  • That's really interesting, please keep us updated! I'm actually somewhat tempted to implant a magnet in my tragus as well now. Did you do yours yourself? The one thing holding me back though is having to wear a large coil like that. Would be perfect if you were able to just directly wirelessly stream the audio to it.

  • Ugghh. Very little success with a necklace sized coil. I tried a 3D printed coil form with 38AWG magnet wire first. 4 turns(6.8Ω) and 12 turns(22Ω), both with and without a thicker steel wire included. Those only worked from ~2cm away. Then I tried a necklace with just 18AWG magnet wire, 7 turns(1.8Ω). That didn't work really at all, just static sounding pulses.

    This is much more challenging than I expected. The information I've found is sub-par. Most DIY audio people don't have electrical backgrounds so they just seem to be winging it. Guess I'll have to become an audio engineer now.
  • edited November 5

    So, from what research I've done, the lower your coil impedance, the higher your speaker's sensitivity. The higher your impedance, the more manageable a load it is for your amplifier. Since you're driving a small magnet far away, you're going to need to pump a lot of power out, since the falloff of the magnetic field from your coil is going to be somewhere between 1/d^2 and 1/d^4(These figures are based on experimental data, because my math background isn't up to snuff enough to use the equations to calculate the exact value without spending a whole afternoon on it), which means that you're going to have to settle for a middling-higher impedance so that you can actually drive the your output with enough force to reach the magnet without a giant cabinet full of amplifier equipment strapped to your back.

    If I have time, I'll try and set up Elmer and do some experiments on coil shape to see if there's anything better than a coil at projecting the magnetic field towards your magnet.

  • edited November 6
    I tried 3 different resistances (see above). The inductive and capacitive components of my impedance for these coils was very small, so resistance dominated. Even so, I got poor results. My current hypothesis is that my amplifier is no good for this job. While it is 6W (more than the one Vicarious used) the peak to peak voltage is low. I hooked it up to a scope and the Pk-Pk was something like 1.1VAC, pitiful. What I'm going to try next is getting a slightly higher wattage amplifier that outputs a much higher amplitude signal. Maybe I should also get some Litz wire for the coil...
  • I think you'll see the most success by starting with an amplifier that's vastly overpowered for the task. I'm not sure what the form factor would be, but quadrupling your wattage would be a good start.

  • I agree. Once I swallowed my pride and switched from a lithium ion rechargeable to a 9V for testing, my options opened up considerably. I purchased this 160W:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01HXU1G02. It will be here tomorrow, so I should have some results over the weekend.
  • Hey just throwing this here. I know some of you wont like this idea but some might. My dad is getting a similar device at some point in the future to this.
    https://www.cochlear.com/us/en/home/products-and-accessories/baha-system
    They can do contact but most of the time they will drill and place a stud into the bone behind the ear. It is a self contained bluetooth vibrator speaker thing.

  • Larry said:
    Hey just throwing this here. I know some of you wont like this idea but some might. My dad is getting a similar device at some point in the future to this.
    https://www.cochlear.com/us/en/home/products-and-accessories/baha-system
    They can do contact but most of the time they will drill and place a stud into the bone behind the ear. It is a self contained bluetooth vibrator speaker thing.

    This is exactly where I got my Pros-Aide prosthetic glue idea, with the magnet glued to the hairless area behind the ear! No direct attachment to the bone, but then again that's part of the appeal. No pain or surgery (unless you run out of Pros-Aide remover and attempt to rip it off). The issue I had with the Baha was that it's a (relatively) large unit, whereas a magnet/coil necklace combo is a lot more stealthy.

  • Also, a cochlear implant is thousands of dollars and requires surgery.

    When I switched to the 160W amp running off of a DC power supply @20V I was able to hear sounds from ~10cm away with both of my test coils, but the higher frequencies were pretty washed out.

    The self-supported 18AWG coil with low resistance is not a great choice moving forward. It allowed too much current to flow and would tap out the amp at anything above the lowest volume settings. Also, it's visually unappealing and making it more turns would become bulky fast.

    The 3D printed coil form with 38AWG magnet wire and high resistance worked pretty well. It got hot quickly at higher volume settings, though. I also tried using the Bluetooth receiver an an input for the larger amp. It worked, but 6W is too powerful to use as a pre-amp. It would tap out above 30% volume.

    Next steps are: Buy some intermediate gauge magnet wire (maybe 28AWG). Purchase or fabricate a steel coil form to wrap the wire around (if I use steel instead of plastic, it will amplify the magnetic field and dissipate heat). Source Bluetooth receiver with a weaker output. Find an ideal power source (maybe a high C rated LiPo and a boost converter).

    I'll keep everyone posted. Let me know if you have ideas. Once my prototype is complete I plan to make a PCB to facilitate assembly and I'll publish some instructions.
  • Well... I am not made for electronics. The amplifier chip, repeatedly, 3x now, breaks. Not sure why or how, but it does. If anyone is interesting in selling a prebuilt amp board + coil, let me know. I've been having my engineer friend build it, and within 24 hours of me using it for tests it stops outputting any signal in the solenoid. I'm tapping out of this idea for the time being.

    Also, the amplifier chip is sensitive to magnetic fields, right? I've been told the amplifier chip on the board can be wiped with a magnetic field, and I fear this is what has been happening, despite me avoiding the entire board like the plague with my left hand, the one with the magnets.

  • Try looking into EMI shielding. I doubt your finger magnets would be enough to do any real damage--if interference is your problem then it is more likely to be from the coil itself. How far from the coil is the board? One thing you could always try is using a basic shielding box and see if that makes a difference. They can be bought very cheaply (for under a dollar) from any electronics distributor. I would recommend digikey. Here's a link to some.
    https://www.digikey.com/products/en/rf-if-and-rfid/rf-shields/867?k=&pkeyword=&sv=0&sf=0&FV=-8|867&quantity=&ColumnSort=0&page=1&stock=1&pageSize=25

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