Martin Magnusson got bored of waiting for the cyberpunk future we were promised in the mid-eighties, so he decided to build his own wearable cyberdeck rig. The version pictured [ganked from this Wired article] is a little crude, perhaps (I quite like the did-it-myself workbench aesthetic of exposed cables, personally, though it’d be a nightmare in a combat situation)), but he’s also managed to scrunch the bulk of it down into a little CD-case-shoulder-bag number for the more style-conscious geek-about-town.
In case you’re wondering about battery life (which was my first question), Magnusson reckons he gets three hours of juice from four AA batteries, which is better than I’d have expected, though still not too awesome. Time to look at harvesting waste energy from the body, Mister Magnusson? 🙂
OK, so it actually takes up the entire belt at the moment… but given a few more years of miniaturization the Wearable Artificial Kidney could end up no bigger than the holster for your cellphone:
A miniaturized dialysis machine that can be worn as a belt, the WAK concept allows patients with end stage renal failure the freedom to engage in daily activity while undergoing uninterrupted dialysis treatment.
Worn as a belt, the device weighs just ten pounds (4.5kg), including the two nine-volt batteries that power it. The compact design, unlike conventional dialysis machines, will leave patients free to engage in the activities that normal kidney function would ordinarily allow them to enjoy. Walking, working and riding a bike can all be actively pursued without restriction while undergoing gentle, uninterrupted treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This really brings home the rapidity of progress for me; a teacher at my secondary school used to have to undergo dialysis treatment for kidney failure, and once a year he’d do a show-and-tell with the machine, which was roughly the size of a three-drawer filing cabinet. That was back in 1992… he was a PE teacher, too – no quitter, this guy – so he’d have loved the idea of the WAK.
How many more organs might we be able to replace with belt-worn machines? They’re probably not an ideal long-term solution, but this technology might keep people alive and active during the long wait for suitable transplant organs to come available. Or perhaps we’ll just go the route of the Mechanists – why wait for a biological organ if you can swap it out for a mechanical device that offers a greater degree of control? [image borrowed from linked article]
In a “twenty-questions” style interview with author Michael Grant over at The Guardian, I was struck by his answer to the final question:
What piece of technology would you most like to own?
I want a Google chip implanted in my brain. Wire up my cerebrum. I’m perfectly serious. I want all access, all the time.
Now, despite his protestations of seriousness, I rather suspect he’s exaggerating for effect. But even so, I found myself wondering whether I’d go for such a connection myself, if the opportunity arose. Let’s assume for a moment (and not too hypothetically) that such an always-on link could be achieved without surgical intervention – high-powered wearable computing, wireless broadband link, some sort of cyberpunk data-shades assemblage for interface, all that jazz. Is it still as transgressive and extreme an idea if you could just take it all off when ever you chose to? After all, I already spend upwards of ten hours a day connected to the internet*; the technological leap to being able to do so without having to be here at my desk seems like a small skip of convenience from where I’m sitting right now.
Now, imagine that Grant’s implants actually existed – how differently would a person with such capabilities interact with the world, and with other people? Would they have something of the autist or savant about them, or would instantaneous access to the knowledge and conversation of the web enhance their abilities to socialise? What work would they do (or want to do), and what jobs would they be denied?
Sure, these are all established questions that arise from reading cyberpunk literature – but to be kicked into that mode of thinking by a throwaway line in an interview with a YA author? It’s a weird wired world, and no mistake.
[ * – Yes, I know it shows. Be nice. ]
This one’s doing the rounds everywhere, and with some justification. I try to steer away from pure OMG TECH! posts here at Futurismic, but if this doesn’t kick you right in the cyberpunk-sensawunda gland with a big pair of hob-nailed boots… well, you’re obviously not as massive an unreconstructed nerd as I am, basically.
See what I mean? As I remarked to a fried on Twitter last night, I’ll cheerfully trade my mortal soul to the first cellphone provider that offers me something that can do all that. Awesome. [via Hack-a-Day and many others]
Exciting times in the world of electronics as phone company Nokia have designed a wearable, flexible phone. Resembling a normal handset folded in half, when fully unrolled it can be used as a keyboard but it can also be folded lengthways and widthways and curled into a bracelet to wear on the wrist.
Although current battery technology isn’t good enough to join this flexible technology revolution as improvements in nanowire batteries and even static electricity generating clothing could mean that in ten year’s time we wear our phone/mp3 player/personal computer on our sleeve and link up our headphones to it wirelessly.
[image and story via the Guardian]