Magnetic Implants and Arduino

So I've been keeping track of grinder work for a while now, and doing quiet a bit of research in the last couple days. I have an idea, and I want to run it by the fine people here and see what everyone thinks.

Essentially, I want to implant a magnet or ferrous metal in my arm and stimulate it with an electromagnet and arduino-based wearable tech. This should have three main advantages: 1) being out of the way compared to something in or on your hand, 2) more space for the equipment and 3) more flexibility with the behavior because arduino has lots of usable sensors and documentation. Specifically, I'm hoping to hook up a compass. In the meantime, I'm going to just buy the microcontroller and play with it over the summer.

The micro controller I'm looking at is the SquareWear 2.0, if curious.

Comments, critiques, questions, concerns, other /k/-initial words?


  • One possible issue is that there are far fewer nerves in the arm than the figure tips (ref: image showing body proportioned by nerve density

    This will mean any sensation from the magnet will be less then with the normal figure implants.
  • There's a common theme here, that any wearable tech designed to work with a magnet could work with a vibrating motor just as well.  Potentially you can feel a little bit more with a magnet but not enough to justify putting in a magnet just for the sensation.

    Along with that comes the issue that magnets aren't going to work as well in your arm as they do in your finger-see @AmmonRa's image.

    You should make your device, but before you consider putting a magnet in your arm use a vibrating motor in the device instead.  Then once you have your specs down try the magnet.  Not to be negative, but it would really suck to build the device and find out that the feedback information you're getting just isn't worth the trouble of wearing a thing on your arm at all times.

    A question that you need to answer before implanting-
    How is this implant device better than devices that already exist.

    Good luck with your endeavors, please keep us updated!
  • I agree with what @iexiak said about building with a vibrator first.  Furthermore, I recommend building in phases.

    1.) Breadboard everything and see that it works because you don't want to solder parts that won't work.

    2.) After your breadboard version works transfer to protoboard and solder everything in place so it's nice and rugged then put it in an enclosure that's powered by a 9V battery.

    3.) At this point, instead of having a vibrator soldered to your board put a plug there so you can remove the motor.  Now you have a wearable, usable device. 

    4.) After you prove to yourself that this is a device you want to have permanently interfacing with your arm then get the implant. 

    5.) Now, unplug your motor and reprogram your SquareWear to output a tone() to the plug instead of an analogWrite().

    6.) If all that works then consider making a custom PCB that's nice and small and a LiPo battery.  Everything after step 5 is window dressing and convenience.  That's really the point at which you have built the device you set out to make.

    This evolution will keep you from dropping too much money into a project at once and allow it to develop organically.  Baby steps.  Goals with obvious landmarks are important and allow you to change parameters when appropriate.  You may find that putting a compass on your arm is a huge hassle because you have to constantly correct for the angle of your arm.  You may find that one compass module works better than another.  You may find that your power supply is too small or runs too hot.

    I don't know your level of expertise so I wrote this with the idea that people with a low skill level will someday read this.

    TL;DR: Build this!  Do it smart.  We'll be here to answer questions.
  • edited April 2014
    Thanks for the feedback guys! The prototyping that @McSTUFF outlined is already what I plan to do. I'm going to have plenty of free-time this summer to experiment with the hardware well before I do any sort of implant.

    I didn't think at all about the nerve density homunculus (I should have, I study experiential cognition) so I'm glad you guys brought that up, @AmmonRa & @iexiak.

    I'll let you guys know when I have any progress, questions, or (possibly) interesting ideas. I'll also be hanging around here to see what other people are up to.

    EDIT: I should point out for anyone else interested that @AmmonRa's homunculus link no longer works. Here's a similar image. Very related is the cortical homunculus, which is essentially how much of the brain is devoted to processing input from each part of the body. The two are pretty well correlated for most of the body.
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