Magnetic implant X-ray

I finally got around to digitizing the X-ray image I took of the magnetic implants I have in the fingers of my left hand. The image below shows the location of the implanted disc magnet within the pad of the ring finger.

Magnetic implants: Implantation video

It has been a year and a month since I had a tiny magnet implanted into the middle and ring fingers of my left hand as a central part of my MEng research project in which I was exploring a novel man-machine interface based on these subdermal magnetic implants. The magnets are still in there, safe and sound and still allowing me to "feel" magnetic fields everywhere around me - like around wires, washing machines, microwaves, ATMs, supermarket checkouts, power supplies, hard disks, fans etc. The research is still continuing as we now have another student at the University of Reading Cybernetics department who has gotten the same implants and are providing a second set of data on the properties of the interface.

Anyway, I wanted to share the video of the implantation procedure (blood-filled as it maybe) just posted on YouTube by Mac McCarthy who had performed the procedure on me. The doctors at the university medical practice had refused to do the procedure due to safety and insurance concerns so I had had to find an alternative means of getting the magnets implanted. It took a fair bit digging and looking around before I found Mac's Punctured Body Modification shop. I was slightly nervous at the start since it was the first time that Mac was attempting to perform a procedure of the kind but luckily everything went quite smoothly. It was an interesting experience; sitting in a chair, watching keenly as my fingers were cut, probed, magnet shoved in and incision stitched while blood oozed out...

Yes, that is my hand!

Graduated! And endings and beginnings...

Time flies! My blog has remained utterly stagnant, without any new posts or updates, for over two months now and is probably the longest hiatus this site has ever seen. It is not without reason though as the intervening period has claimed some very hectic and interesting changes in my life...

June was the final month of my studies and, together with the month that preceded it, various academic and work-related commitments kept me plenty busy and stressed, juggling lots of things to do on deadlines. Early July was a bittersweet time as I graduated with my Master of Engineering degree in Artificial Intelligence and Cybernetics from the University of Reading and bid farewell to a way of life that has kept me occupied for the past four years. I also got to spend some quality time with my father and brother who came to visit me, neither of whom had I had the chance to spend much time with in the last few years.

Anyway, I have mostly been in a holiday mood since then and have generally tried to do as little as I can afford to. But a new chapter in life is about to begin and, to be honest, I have no idea what the new chapter is going to be all about. I am hoping that it continues to have something to do with the sort of things that I love, that gets me über excited and gets my brain whirring. For now, I am hoping that PlayRobots - a little business venture that I co-founded late last year with some colleagues from university - will give me all that and be a successful vessel that will carry me forward...

All I need now, I guess, is a large pot of luck!

Magnetic implants - playing with magnets

I mentioned briefly but vaguely in a recent post that I was playing guinea pig in some work I was doing as part of my research project at university. Well, it turns out being the guinea pig in this case translates into getting two tiny neodymium (rare-earth metal, high field-strength) magnets implanted into the pads of the middle and index fingers of my left hand!

Magnetic implants (of the sorts I have) are by no means new - a body modification artist called Samppa is said to have experimented with them in the late 90's. However, I became aware of them around 2006 when Wired carried an article by Quinn Norton about her getting such an implant. I was very intrigued by the experiences reported in the article and and by the time I finished reading everything about magnetic implants I could find on the net, I had a few experiments I wanted to run and was itching to get one myself. As I had mentioned in a blog post I made back then, I was mostly interested in the sensory extension that was reported to be brought on by the magnet responding ever so slightly to external electromagnetic fields (such as that produced by current-carrying wires, motors etc). The work I'm doing now essentially involves basic scientific exploration of the effect and building on the ideas I had originally towards a practical application.

The video below shows me playing around with magnets similar to which I have inside my fingers. No real point here, other than just play and a little demonstration of the strength of the implanted magnets ;-) I'll post more details on the type of magnet and the implantation process a bit later...

Me, human guinea pig

I've been experimenting with a potential "new" type of machine-man interface for a little while now. In the process, I've subjected myself to a bit of mutilation, pain and general annoyance. But today, I'm quite happy because I have now obtained some very interesting results...

Hopefully, will share more about the work in the coming weeks/months.

Stitch removal... about two months ago.

What do I "feel"?

Stochastic Diffusion Search for Real-Time Web Search

My third year project at uni (this year) involved investigating the application of Stochastic Diffusion Search to the problem of real-time web search by designing and implementing such a search engine in software. It certainly was interesting work and though the project had been completed successfully, there are a few things I wish I had explored and experimented with a bit more. I have another major project to tackle for the last year of my M.Eng degree in AI and Cybernetics which begins next month.

Anyway, here is a short presentation I had given based on a research paper I had to submit on my work as part of the course. I hope you find it interesting...

My presentation on cybernetics at FMC: thoughts and photos

I gave a presentation titled "Cybernetics and Intelligent Search", as I had mentioned earlier, at the Faculty of Management and Computing at the Maldives Center for Higher Education in late September this year. The presentation went as planned and went well but I'm not too sure what impact it had on the attendees. The presentation was attended by about 20 or so students of FMC but they all kept awfully quiet throughout and especially in the Q&A slot. The only time anyone reacted was during the demonstration of some A.I systems in practice. I guess I have to take comfort in the reassurance by a FMC faculty member present that this was standard response by students!

I am very thankful to Adam Khalid (Assistant Coordinator, Bachelor of IT) and the Faculty for hosting my presentation and arranging it all. I am also grateful to the students who attended the presentation and sat through the entire hour and I sincerely hope that they found it interesting and informative.

I've put up some photos of the event here. :-)