Title says it all, folks.
[ * See what I did there? ]
Here’s a super bit of cyborg-media-culture-identity riffing from Kevin Lovelace at grinding.be about the power of brands and/or identities (the difference between the two is getting pretty fuzzy) as prosthetic cyborg extensions of our selves. A post that mashes up Grant Morrison’s Batman Inc., Kanye West and open-source umbrella identities like Anonymous – what’s not to love?
By becoming a transmedia brand, the Batman gains the ability to clone itself and sent out its conceptual mind-babies out into the world, doing the work of Batman even in the actual absence of Batman. Many people “know” Kanye via his body of work and his carefully sculpted public persona – a persona so information rich and media saturated that it can spawn its own meta-narratives. Kanye West is the puppet of the Illuminati, and we can prove it! He’s brilliant! He’s insane! He’s… He’s a story. The Kanye that 99% of the people reading this know is a story about a man who makes music – a narrative crafted largely BY the man who makes that music. Its is a story with granularity and richness enough to allow many points of entry and engagement, spin-offs, theories and supposition. The Kanye West we “know” is a prosthetic identity – an interface program that uses media as its computational substrate that exists between “us” the audience and the “real” Kanye (and his PR team) who operate the prosthetic.
Lots of connections to our earlier discussions of the ubiquity of narrative in an altermodern culture… we are all the stories of ourselves, but we can change the plot whenever we like, or even let other people write their own versions. Go read it.
Well, this sidesteps the clunky implementations of lifelogging that we’ve seen so far. Rob Spence lost the vision in his tright eye in a shooting accident, and decided to replace it with a small camera unit, making it onto Time Magazine‘s best inventions list for 2009 (even though they’ve only had the thing working properly for a short time).
Now Spence’s eye has a wi-fi transmitter that can stream its video output to a computer; from there, it’s a short step to making Spence’s field of vision a free-to-view live feed available to anyone with an internet connection [via SlashDot]. There are some minor technical issues to iron out first, though:
The prototype in the video provides low-res images, but an authentic experience of literally seeing through someone else’s perspective. The image is somewhat jerky and overhung by huge eyelashes; a blink throws everything out of whack for a half-second.
The Eyeborg prototype in the video, the third, can only work for an hour an a half on a fully charged battery. Its transmitter is quite weak, so Spence has to hold a receiving antenna to his cheek to get a clear signal. He muses that he should build a Seven of Nine-style eyepiece to house it. He’s experimenting with a new prototype that has a stronger transmitter, other frequencies and a booster on the receiver.
It surely won’t be all that long before equivalent hardware could be slipped into a fully-functional biological eye… possibly without the knowledge or permission of the eye’s owner. Which suggests that the tin-foil bonnet brigade will upgrade their fears of surveillance through compromised cell phones to a fear of covertly-implanted audio and video capture devices… hey, it could happen, man*.
[ * Though this assumes, as do most such paranoid conspiracy theories, a level of competence, clandestine secrecy and forward planning of which most nation-state governments seem utterly incapable. I wouldn’t credit the UK government with the ability to successfully tap a barrel of beer, let alone my eyesight… and if they did somehow pull it off, they’d only go and leave the footage on the back seat of a bus. ]
Another genre cliché becomes reality, as the imaginatively-named company Bionic Vision Australia prepares to install the first in-human deployment of a prototype eyeball implant designed to “deliver improved quality of life for patients suffering from degenerative vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration” [via KurzweilAI.net]. Er, what?
The device, which is currently undergoing testing, consists of a miniature camera mounted on glasses that captures visual input, transforming it into electrical signals that directly stimulate surviving neurons in the retina. The implant will enable recipients to perceive points of light in the visual field that the brain can then reconstruct into an image.
Ah, right. Why didn’t you just say so, eh? Here’s a video:
File under “gimme one of those” – a Canadian university team has developed a knee brace device that harnesses the movement of the leg while walking to produce 5 Watts of power. [Image from linked NewScientist article]
That’s enough to run ten mobile phones at once, apparently (though why you’d ever need more than one isn’t clear … I kid, I kid). From the article:
“The generator does not significantly increase the effort required for walking, says Max Donelan of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, who led its development.
“Muscles spend about the same amount of time working as brakes as they do working as motors,” he explains. The device is designed so it only generates electricity during the “braking” phase of each step. This is when the leg is being unbent and is decelerating, just before the foot touches the ground.
The device works similarly to hybrid and electric cars, Donelan points out. They boost efficiency by generating electricity from energy expended during braking – known as regenerative braking.”
A device that saves on my electricity bill and encourages me to exercise? It’s the ultimate accessory for the self-sufficient cyberpunk-around-town – where do I sign?