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At first, he connected it to headphones and a laptop. Eventually, he persuaded a surgeon to drill into his skull, implant a chip, and fuse the antenna to his occipital bone
“What’s that thing sticking out of your head?” a woman asks the man with a serpentine antenna between his eyes.
Neil Harbisson turns, parts his bowl-cut blond locks, and curves the antenna toward the buttinsky. “It’s a way to hear color,” he says.
“What’s it connected to?” she asks.
Harbisson looks up at her with smiling, cobalt eyes. “My brain.”
At an outdoor cafe at L.A.’s Original Farmers Market, passersby are constantly checking out Harbisson, 34, and his partner, Moon Ribas, 31. In her left arm, she has a Bluetooth implant designed to analyze the earth’s seismic movements. What’s it feel like? “Two heartbeats,” she says.
The sensor itself, a compass chip that detects magnetic fields, is easy to remove. The tough part is installing two pocket-size titanium barbells onto the wearer’s chest, like a piercing. When the skin heals, typically after a month or two, the silicone-coated North Sense slides onto the implant. Babitz says the sensor is designed to allow the free flow of air and avoid skin irritation, and it’s waterproof.
The World Economic Forum says Cyborg Nest’s type of biohacking could be commonplace by 2020. “If you’re alive today, you’re probably going to end up having at least one electronic attachment,” Babitz says.