Itching for tech, the advent of subdermal devices

Posted by Flux on 

23 October 2014


What’s trending now

Recently a colleague of mine, Mynhardt van Pletsen , referred to this trend as ‘The Creeping of Tech’. He explained that tech was first very separate from us, in a room in a government building, then it moved onto our desks, then onto our laps with notebooks and laptops, then into our pockets with smart phones, and most recently onto wrists with devices like Samsung’s GEAR and Apple’s Apple Watch and onto our faces with Google Glass.

The next wave, and what I want to focus on in this observation, is tech moving in under our skin.

Welcome implants, embedded tech, and subdermal devices.

Why it’s important 

The imminent arrival of commercial subdermal technology being implanted on a wide ‘voluntary’ scale is a very important threshold. While this practice is certainly nothing new, we’ve been implanting cochlear devices, brain implants, and pacemakers for example for years. This, more commercial or voluntary implantation will create new ways we interact with technology and data.

What’s the butterfly effect

As I mentioned above, the effect will be change the way we interact with data. keyboards and touch screens can become a thing of the past. Take for example Project Underskin, a concept created by the company New Deal Design for Fast Company.

It is a digital tattoo that could be implanted under your skin in your hand,

“Running off of your body’s electro-chemical energy, Underskin would always be on, able to do basic things, such as sending out NFC signals to unlock your door when you touch the handle or ensuring your credit card only works when it’s in your hand.”

Glowing gently just beneath the surface of your skin, the device is subtle and almost elegant, working in the background transmitting to unlock doors and make payments for you, and receiving data such as contact details with just a handshake.

The pioneers

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT media lab and who accurately predicted such tech as wireless technology, the touch screen, tablets, and many more, postulates at the end of his recent TED talk that we would in around 30 years time be learning information in a new remarkable way. We would literally be able to ingest information, taking a pill to learn for example French or Shakespeare.

Getting lost in the outdoors without a phone or GPS will be a thing of the past. Electronic engineer Brian McEvoy has designed the world’s first internal compass. I is called the ‘Southpaw’ which is inspired by the North Paw bracelet – the South Paw, is basically a miniature compass embedded under the skin. A super thin whisker peeks out, which is activated and lightly brushes your skin when you face north.

On forums such as, bio hackers (people already implanting tech into their bodies) discuss and trade ideas, techniques and materials.

Amal Graafstra, founder of Dangerous Things , sells RFID implants, similar too but more advanced than the chips implanted into pets, on the web along with DIY injection kits. The devices are used to authenticate the user, for example to go through security check point at your office, or even to start your motorcycle (as shown in this video):

The global hot spots

Most of these products are just in concept phase and the ones out there, like the RFID chips are not approved by any regulatory body for human implantation. So at the moment the hotspots are idea labs, drawing boards and imaginations all around the world, but keep an eye out, because the biosphere is moments away from being crossed.

By: Pierre du Plessis

About Pierre


Pierre is a communicator, a dreamer and a troublemaker. He loves how we are all connected in more astounding ways and more than we ever thought. He is completely obsessed with life in contemporary culture and he wallows in new ideas and marvels at how they can restore and re – create our world.

Image credit: David Friedman/Getty Images

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