"DIY Cyborg" implants body-monitoring
device under his skin


DIY Cyborg implants body tracking device under his skin

News: biohacker Tim Cannon has taken wearable technology to a new extreme by implanting a device into his arm so he can monitor his biometric data on a tablet.

Cannon had the body-monitoring device inserted under the skin on his left forearm to track changes in his body temperature.

Built by his company Grindhouse Wetware, the Circadia 1.0 contains a computer chip within a sealed box about the size of a pack of cards and is powered by a battery that can be wirelessly charged.

DIY Cyborg implants body tracking device under his skin

Realtime readings of Cannon's body temperature are transmitted from the chip to his Android-powered device via Bluetooth.

He is able to monitor fluctuations and notice if he is getting a fever, as well as look back at recorded data to find patterns he can use to adjust his lifestyle and help keep him healthy.

"I think that our environment should listen more accurately and more intuitively to what's happening in our body," Cannon explained to tech blog Motherboard. "So if, for example, I've had a stressful day, the Circadia will communicate that to my house and will prepare a nice relaxing atmosphere for when I get home: dim the lights, let in a hot bath."

DIY Cyborg implants body tracking device under his skin

A fellow body modification enthusiast implanted the chip in Cannon's arm without anaesthetics, as doctors aren't authorised to insert non-medical devices.

LEDs built into the case flash when the device connects to the tablet, lighting up the tattoo on Cannon's forearm.

The Circadia 1.0 will be available to buy in the next few months at an estimated cost of $500 (£314). Cannon has reportedly already been able to make a smaller version the device and plans to incorporate a pulse monitor.

By embedding the technology into his body, Cannon has taken a leap forward from removable body-monitoring devices worn around the wrist such as the Nike+ FuelBand and Jawbone's Up, or concept for the flexible electronic circuits that stick directly to the skin. Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs discussed how wearable technology will "transform our understanding of ourselves" in his Opinion column earlier this year.

Images are from Motherboard's Youtube video.

  • Nyusz No 1

    WTF? Why not use a thermometer like the rest of us? Does he really need to know his peripheral body temperature on a minute by minute basis?

  • Paco Caballer

    Can we see photos of the surgery?

  • Wadi

    How beautiful! LOL

  • Caressa Givens

    This is gross. Can’t he find a smaller device to implant by now? Yuck. Oh sorry you tripped over my implant!

  • Sponge8

    I mean, I like gadgets…


    Waiting for the follow up article on how his arm had to be cut off because of infection!

    • Flatgod

      You can already see the irritation in his skin.

  • Outcast Editions

    I feel sick…

  • Sam

    Next time I hope he inserts a brain into his skull.

  • Wobi

    What a complete idiot! He will likely have many followers in the future… Those idiots are everywhere.

  • hmm

    Why not implant a small steam engine to have as an onboard power source?

  • Bill

    Apparently, Grindhouse is in desperate need of a package designer that knows a thing or two about ergonomic shaping.

  • tom

    Has anybody seen my iPhone?

  • Paco Caballer

    I don’t know why the scar is not behind. I think it would be much easier insert the device. FAKE.

  • Concerned Citizen

    With all the existing non-invasive devices available at significantly lower cost, this seems to be a product designed solely for that fringe that induce radical body modifications. Perhaps if the idiot had done some research he would know that there is no need for such an 18th century concept.

  • Matt

    I like how this is supposed to replace wearable devices like Nike+ and Jawbone, things designed for athletes. You know, if you exercise your body will undergo physical changes. This guy looks like he can barely use his hand after stuffing an iPhone shaped box under the skin.

    Creating something that ultimately just gets in the way and solves a non-existent problem. We have too much of that lately.

  • Pretendgineer

    I would have thought viewers on a design site that features innovative new technologies would be a bit more open minded about something like this. Can’t you see the potential? This is amazing!

    Alright, the device he actually used is poorly shaped (rounded corners maybe?) and is very limited in function, but just think where this will go! Like the man in the video said, doctors wouldn’t go near this because they’d lose their license for performing the surgery. The only option is DIY, at least until the world catches up. Open source body modification.

    After a temporary sensor, what about monitoring blood flow, heart rate, blood composition, toxicity levels in danger zones, etc. This is the beginning of that – an embedded diagnostic computer could completely change medicine as we know it.

    It’s a real pity this had to be done in a hotel, outside of an operating room. I don’t doubt that the team have sterilised the device and taken all possible precautions but still. It’s also a pity it’s so bulky, but they have to start somewhere. I’d imagine most of the space is taken up by the battery and wireless device. If more sophisticated facilities were available than are usually available to run of the mill hackers, they could probably miniaturise this to workable levels but unfortunately, they had to work with what they have.

    I don’t get the commenters that are disgusted by this or asking why do it when we have ordinary thermometers. Have you no vision? Just think of where this technology could go next with some funding and support, then ask yourself why we should settle for what we have when we can do better!

    • OddStrange

      Revolutionary, my patootie. It’s more redundant than anything else, not to mention sloppy. And by the way, this technology is probably already available, miniaturised by several degrees, and able to not burst out of your arm if you hit it too hard.
      There are bracelets that can do the same, and more as well, while being smaller and one heck of a lot less dangerous. The greatest principle of design, I believe, is simplicity; which is not really epitomised here.

  • laureens van Harten

    Photoshop, obviously. To small of a gap for the size of device. As already asked, where are the pictures of the surgery?

    • Pretendgineer

      Have you watched his Youtube videos? Watch them and then tell me it’s photoshop.

  • Stophourus

    That’s just horrible!

  • You are an idiot.

    | …but they have to start somewhere.

    Are you freaking kidding me. We have the technology to place an unnoticeable tracking device in our pets. Sensors are so small now. Of course we see the potential, but this isn’t potential. I’m sorry if myself and the rest of the post here think it is absolutely stupid to put an iPhone 5 under their skin.

    You are as much of an idiot as this idiot. Go do idiot things together if you like this so much.

    • Pretendgineer

      Nice ad hominem rather than an argument. Very persuasive.

      We do have the mini tech but it’s not available to the vast majority of us when prototyping things. If this isn’t potential given that it’s a DIY project of superior vision than execution then what is? The simple fact is that miniaturised electronic manufacture isn’t available outside of mass production or big business prototyping and this guy did the best he could do with the resources he had.

      • Naimit


        So this human infectious disease vector did the best with what he had? Uh. I hesitate to point this out, but what possible need did his moronic self surgery address?

        Also, no matter how great the future potential of internal cyborgized medical equipment, a sane person waits *until the technology is mature* before stuffing it into their body. Giving Tim Cannon props for “trailblazing” is akin to complimenting a guy who jumps out of a plane with a napkin tied at each corner with string. Don’t you realize the potential of this technology once someone invents a workable parachute?!

        Yes. I do recognize that. I’d also wait for the parachute.

  • ponz


  • lark_k

    People are disgusted because it looks infected!
    It would be amazing if it was a tiny chip and not what appears to be a smartphone jammed under someone’s skin for shock value.

    I have a hard time believing that this couldn’t be accommodated in a smaller package… and I’m sure some drug company somewhere is looking into something like this. It would be naïve to think otherwise.

    • Aaron

      Is this really innovative? Like so much ‘innovative technology’ this seems a solution without a problem. I already have an advanced system for determining if I have a fever coming on. It’s called by body. I feel hot.

      This is just fetishism. It serves no useful purpose beyond asserting a certain kind of cultural pose, which can of course be said of most contemporary design.

    • Pretendgineer

      I agree that it’s not the nicest looking and I have no doubt that he will have medical complications from it, but given the resources available to most people, he did the best he could do.

      I’m sure he would have put something smaller in there if he could have. Although, he definitely shouldn’t have left corners like that on the case. Maybe it is for the shock value, I don’t know.

      In his latest youtube video, it looks pretty red and inflamed. I can’t imagine it’s that pleasant to have so I can see him taking it out in the near future, but in terms of actual experimentation in bio hacking it’s an amazing project.

      Like the presenter in the video said, doctor’s in the US at least would lose their license if they did this surgery in or out of an operating room. So unless there emerges an appetite for this sort of thing, FDA approval will not be forthcoming and no drug company will try it, at least publicly. It needs to be proven in the limited ways it can be by those willing to do it to themselves before any progress can be made. Who knows, Tim Cannon could become an important name in the development of bio-modification in the future.

      • Paco

        It’s a s***! It’s closer to cyberpunk like Tetsuo rather than something technologically interesting. I think Stelarc with his ear talks about more things than this guy.

  • bwd

    Sad that some people don’t know where to stick it – so to speak. Anyway, this is looking fake or is it eroding through skin? Either way, disgusting.

  • JB

    Disturbing, uncontrolled and medically irresponsible implant with no understanding of the human body’s immune system, which will reject and harm permanently as a result of this so called “experiment”. Probably the worst thing I’ve seen in years. Self harming carried out by someone who wants to see a number taken from his body on a screen? He should seek some psychiatric care and a doctor to remove it before it becomes a huge infection that may kill them.

  • ScottW315

    There is no reason for this device to be so large, or inserted into the body through an unauthorised and invasive procedure. I have smaller scars from getting my Gallbladder removed. This is pure fetishism, aimed at grossing out everyone else who doesn’t want to eliminate the functionality of their arm by shoving a glowing iPhone inside of it via a clandestine DIY surgery.

    A more practical device would be something like a small flexible external patch similar to a band-aid; this would rule out invasive surgery and infection, conform to the shape of your body, not interfere with the functionality of your arm and could easily be removed. This implant creates more problems than solutions and has no legitimate design potential outside of its disgusting ‘look at me!’ wow factor.

  • Pretendgineer

    Well I can’t make you interested in it, or make you see the potential but it is highly disingenuous to compare Tim Cannon to Stelarc when it’s clear their goals, means and reasonings are different.

    • Paco Caballer

      Do you really think that Tim Cannon has any reasoning? Hahaha… I think it’s publicity.

  • Mike Magill

    That could possibly be the dumbest most “look at me” phoney scientific advancement that I have ever seen.

  • kcj

    If this was done to monitor his health, optimise his home environment and make adjustments to bolster his well being, I think a more effective starting point would be for Tim to stop smoking cigarettes.

  • Naimit

    My favorite part was when his arm became gangrenous and had to amputated!

    But don’t let this blind you to the potential! DIY surgery has a HUGE future in keeping the US funerary homes financially solvent. The money you save on disinfectant can be put toward your cremation! Brilliant!

    On the plus side, however, this iPhone internal lozenge will really come in handy when it alerts the user that his body temperature has exceeded 108 degrees Fahrenheit. How else could he possibly know that he was ill and near death?

    Well. Aside from the buckets of puss spraying out of his arm, obviously.

  • miz

    How in the world did he get the iPhone bluetooth to communicate with the Android tablet one (o.o)?

  • Pretendgineer

    That’s a pretty simplistic false equivalent. I’d definitely wait for the parachute in that situation too but I’d also avidly follow (from the safety of the internet) all the napkin parachuters as they splat their way to a workable fix.

    How will the technology ever mature when large companies with the resources and facilities available show no appetite to develop it? For better or worse, bio modification has made headlines and even if/when this fails it will push it further than it’s gone previously.

  • moon

    It’s seriously wrong stuff to be posted. Dezeen, I have been a big fan of you for a long time but this is completely absurd. I guess I am losing my whole interest checking content here.

  • Will

    WOW, a device that measures body temperature! What will they think of next?!

  • NemesisTheWarlock

    All he needs now is a penis grafted onto his forehead to remind himself of what a dickhead he is.

  • readyalready

    Life changing. Maybe he should team up with the fart smell absorbing pantie guy to design an anal implanted device which counts farts.

  • smanzer

    Hi, he should quit smoking first – then maybe he would live longer. This kind of interruption to his body can cause sepsis and death. Not a smart move at all.

  • scarlov87

    Well I find this interesting in some way, keeping feelings apart, but this is zero friendly and not very functional to be implanted. If you ask me, design should be basically “friendly functionality for the user”, imagine just putting on a shirt, damn those tips will cause more pain than a benefit for health.

    Does it measure the blood pressure? Fat excess? Possible heart attack? Does it really deserve to be inside your body? Just for one function… Is temperature is that hard to predict? What if you use that device with a pacemaker to control pulsations? Or to measure if they are properly synchronised? Or what if you develop some device that alerts patient who are about to suffer sugar excesses, something like that?

  • omg

    INFECTION!! Nothing is sterile enough.

  • omg

    Hmmm. Maybe the fever he is detecting is from the infection?! And he needs a device to tell him that.

  • Paco

    I need more news! He has his arm still?

  • MitchellCallahan

    Oh god, that’s ghastly! NSFW tag possibly needed? It’s a bit repulsive if you’re not prepared for it – terrible design.


    Pretty sure a wearable armband could have done the same thing and not made him look like a freak.

  • kadap

    Once this guy finds out thermometers exist he is going to be pissed!

  • Why would someone want to get themselves in pain?

  • andyrwebman

    A lot more miniaturisation is needed before this can be taken seriously.