MAKE Asks: Fantasy Cybernetic Implants

MAKE Asks: Fantasy Cybernetic Implants

MAKE Asks: is a weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column sparks interesting conversation and is a way for us to get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: If you could have a device (or devices) implanted into your body to make you a better, stronger, more efficient maker, what would it be?

I would want retractable tools implanted into the bones of my fingers — sort of like the Maker version of Wolverine. I think I might call them my “Swiss Army Fingertips.”

Post your responses in the comments section.

34 thoughts on “MAKE Asks: Fantasy Cybernetic Implants

  1. Sylvano says:

    Bio-generator-charger. Converting fat into electricity, sounds like killing 2 birds with one stone.

    1. kai says:

      That sounds neat, would you have a socket installed in your navel? Think of what your food costs would be once you burned off all your body fat!

  2. kai says:

    The ‘swiss army fingertips’ were my first thought too. Enhanced vision with a Heads-Up-Display of level, angle, temperature, and other information would be great. Strengthened grip power and hardened fingertips to work hardware by hand would be cool too, especially if my hands were tough enough to handle red hot steel without ill effect.

    1. Ronin says:

      I can think tools like screwdrivers or tweezers but you’d have to twist your whole body or do some weird finger gymnastics to pick them up.

      Though, combine a volt-meter with your HUD and then that’s a little different ;)

  3. Lars says:

    The brain has an astonishing ability to re-learn. For example the experiment with the rubber hand that the brain adopts as an innate limb.
    So my implant suggestion is not actually an implant, but rather a satellite. Since neural impulses not necessarily have to be physically connected to the body, wireless transfer could be used to direct the satellite. Once the human/machine interface is established, it could be replicated in a wireless version.
    The advantage is obvious. No physically harmful and irreversible modifications to the human body need to implemented.

  4. chuck says:

    I want eyes that can see in various spectra, as well as zoom, focus, and record. Like the Zeiss Ikon implants from the William Gibson novels.
    I also want nanobots to replace the calcium in my bones with titanium or some high tech alloy to increase bone strength and reduce weight.
    Oh yeah- one of those tiny magnets in my fingertip so I can feel electrical fields, too.
    And while we’re at it how about a few terabytes or additional memory for reference materials, formulas, names, and all the other stuff that slips out of the meat ware too easily.

  5. MrJohnK says:

    I would like to have a small computer implanted that would allow my brain to communicate directly as a new form of human interface. I have long fantasized about the ability to communicate with my friends, family and coworkers over a sort of instant messenger that is on a private channel, just by thinking about it. Imagine the possibilities: small groups of military personnel could coordinate efforts without giving any outward signs; parents want to communicate without prying ears; sales people communicating together while discussing a product or service to a customer. It would be a sort of telepathy like experience or a Star Trek Borg like interface.

  6. Alan S. Blue says:

    A third hand.

    Many of the options I might like would be better served by a “port”. That is, something that can be detached, and yet one might be able to control directly when so desired. The stock mechanical third hands are a hassle. And there’s a general void in the area of small, cheap, five-axis-ish remote or robotic arms.

    And the mandatory infrared, ultraviolet, telescope-microscope-fisheye-3D vision with overlay.

  7. Andrea L. Cook says:

    I’d love something like the swiss-army-fingers, or some eyes that wern’t so bad. In slightly less-fantastical terms, I’d like an implant that would count as my ID/door badge/passwords so that I wouldn’t have to remember all of that.

  8. Steve C says:

    In order of desire:
    Data download port – learn things like in The Matrix
    Enhanced vision (spectral, zoom, microscopic)
    Photographic memory
    Enhanced muscle and bones
    Laser of different wavelength in each finger, because”fricken lasers”

  9. Marcus says:

    Cybernetic eyes and some form of input, whether that by via direct nerve link or monitoring finger movement. Then you could have access to remote desktop in your head. Phone, Skype, calendar, calculator, journal/a different type of memory, Google googgles, work, games… Everything we use a computer for, with us where ever we need it. I wonder if I’d stop talking to people and just become a exclusive denizen of the internet?

  10. Duncan Domingue says:

    A sense of compass heading. Magnetic north, true north, whatever. Maybe even like some birds, where their sense of compass heading is linked to their vision.

  11. mtbf0 says:


  12. Calisto says:

    a high function calculator built into my skull or someplace that would allow me to input at the speed of thought and receive output by seeing it on a flat surface. That and a few terabytes of storage space, eventually it would be the same as a photographic memory.

  13. Tommy Phillips says:

    As a classic geek, I often find that the emotional reactions of the people around me are less accessible than physical and theoretical information. My dream implant system would be some kind of emotional network, where most people would have sensors to monitor physiological signs of emotional response, and then broadcast a summary state to nearby receivers. Knowing how people are reacting to a project or prototype would be valuable in future development.

    Privacy issues? Absolutely. Users would need absolute control of who could receive their state. Perhaps the user could set a default threshold (don’t broadcast unless at least seven people are in range), so they could contribute to a room’s mood without losing privacy (and possibly conversational advantages) in more intimate settings.

    Computers are easy to understand. People are waaaaaay more complex.

  14. Karl Rosenqvist says:

    I want to replace one of my eyes with a highpowered LASER. That way I could just print out my designs on paper, glue it to the material of choice and follow the lines to have my very own built in lasercutter. Also .. laser beam out of my eye! How frikkin cool is that?!
    I suppose a hidden powersaw in my arm could be cool as well. At first I thought of a multimeter in my hand but then the image of sticking my fingers in a socket flashed before my eyes.

  15. Bill Bradham says:

    First: anything that would extend the senses. Seeing up into the ultraviolet and down into the infrared; hearing up into the ultra- and down into the sub-sonic range, etc. Perhaps new senses: microantenna arrays so one could visualize radio transmissions. Think: the Lobsters in Bruce Sterling’s novel ‘Schismatrix.’

    Second: anything that would allow us to precisely measure what our senses tell us but without external tools. Imagine knowing exactly the length of an object by sight and/or touch without using a ruler; the wavelength of light you were seeing (via internal prism or diffraction grating?); the frequency of a sound you were hearing; the temperature of an object via the infrared you can now see so you don’t have to touch it or use a temp probe; being able to find air leaks by listening for and localizing the ultrasonics you can now hear.

    Third: active transmitters for different uses. Imagine using ultrasonic like a bat by emitting your own chirps and listening for their return and being able to measure how long it took all without external tools; being able to emit laser transmissions for measurement or communication (or other) purposes; being your own radio transmitter (via software defined radio and software defined antenna arrays.) I’m not certain how much of this could be accomplished biologically and not mechanically. This feels a bit like Borg territory and that makes me uncomfortable.

    Fourth: better energy and materials uptake for our bodies. We need to be able to directly use sunlight and dirt for power and materials. I don’t mean eating it, just laying in it and one’s skin takes up what it needs. Author Nancy Kress covered this in the ‘Beggars in Spain’ series years ago.

    I think I could do without Borg snap-on tools like saws, drills, etc. I will use external tools for things like that. I don’t want to appear to be a machine but a normal mammal that happens to have some non-obvious capabilities. :)

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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

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