Stelarc, an artist and lead of the Alternate Anatomies Lab at Curtin University in Australia, has implanted an internet-connected ear on his arm.
He has been working on the idea since 1996, but was only recently able to find a medical team willing to work on the extreme body modification.
He envisions a future in which people are biologically connected at a distance using wireless devices and custom-grown sensory organs.
“Increasingly now, people are becoming internet portals of experience…” he told ABC News. “Imagine if I could hear with the ears of someone in New York, imagine if I at the same time could see with the eyes of someone in London.”
The ear was built on Stelarc’s forearm using a scaffold under his skin. Over six months, tissue and blood vessels have grown around it to make it a living part of his arm. Next, he wants to make the ear more three-dimensional by adjusting its architecture and growing a lobe using his own stem cells.
He can’t hear through the ear, and doesn’t plan to. Instead, it is intended for other people to be able to hear his entire life, making himself an “internet portal of experience.” A tiny microphone implanted in the ear will be turned on at all times and be able to be tracked using GPS.
“They’ll be able to follow a conversation or hear the sounds of a concert, wherever I am, wherever you are. People will be able to track, through a GPS as well, where the ear is,” he said.
He has already tested the microphone and found the implantation to be a success, but the mechanical component had to be removed because of an infection.
This biological art project may bring to mind the Vacanti mouse, a scientific experiment performed in 1997 in which a three-dimensional human ear was grown from cartilage cells on the back of a mouse.
Filed Under: Rapid prototyping