The idea of biohacking isn’t a new one. At some point in our lives, we’ve all sought to optimise our bodies one way or another (which is exactly what biohacking is about), but I’ll have to admit I knew nothing at all about the movement until a recent company event shed some light on it… and weirded me out a bit, in the process.

Killing the preconceptions

Even before I took the time to develop a more balanced opinion on the matter, my preconceptions were quickly forming, with conversations on the event centring on implants that can do this, that and the other… It all sounded pretty weird and pretty quickly a number of questions were bouncing around my slightly addled brain: Does biohacking mess too much with Mother Nature? Is it crossing the line? Is it something I’d get involved in and if so, at what point would I turn around and say “no”?

If – as a complete beginning to the topic – you’d walked in on the last ten minutes of the presentation (given by Digiwell’s Patrick Kramer), you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into some sort of future sci-fi movie… Nano robots flying around inside your head… Googling through your brain… All a bit too Fifth Element for my liking, but when you look at the more conventional stuff, you may soon realise that biohacking is something you’ve been doing for quite some time.

Basic hacks

On that basis, I’d question whether taking vitamin pills or other nutritional supplements could be considered ‘biohacks’.

Cropped Hand Holding Various Pills And Capsules
Is taking vitamins the first step towards biohacking?

Having heard a little about what goes on at Bulletproof with their mission to seemingly reinvent the way we drink coffee, my interest intensified. Bulletproof coffee has successfully brought biohacking to the masses with the commercial introduction of butter and oil in coffee. Why? In their own words, it “allows you to transform your diet without resorting to chewing on sticks of butter” and driven by the logic that “clean coffee is healthy…” But it doesn’t stop with coffee and I guess from a personal perspective this is where things start slipping away from what I consider to be normal. Comfort zone stretching stuff, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Other examples that seem a little less bonkers (to me) include vibration training to reduce the length of a workout, consuming so-called ‘vital mushrooms’ offering a variety of different benefits and sticking a UV light up your nose if you’ve not managed to get your daily fix of vitamin D (ok, that does sound a bit mad, even though this has a very scientific supporting argument).

Getting under your skin?

One thing that really did make sense at the event was when Patrick explained his rationale, telling us why it’s only natural that implants are the next step in the evolution of wearables.

Over the years, tech has gradually become smaller and smaller, all the while getting closer and closer to our skin… So it seems almost natural that the next step was full-on bodily integration.

I get that. I really do, but upon hearing about some of the various applications of implants, I once again started to get that uncomfortable “I’d never do THAT” kind of itch. As a self-confessed nail biter, I have to confess the idea of getting an implant that zaps me whenever I go for a chew gives me flashbacks from watching the original Ghostbusters movie (remember the bit near the beginning when they were in the lab and… Never mind). I also don’t really think I’d ever find a decent reason to get magnets stuck inside my fingertips, but for others I’m sure it’s actually a thing…

One guy is interviewing another guy with a microphone about Biohacking Implants
Patrick Kramer on stage unlocking a door mechanism with his implant. What other opportunities will biohacking open in the future?

Weeks later, I was chatting with a colleague who’s taken the plunge and got himself an implant and the conversation soon turned its way to business potential at adidas (and, before you get too excited, I’m not saying we will) what would this mean for the sports wearables market? Is there a serious application for implants in the future when it comes to fitness tracking? Only the future will tell, I guess.

Is it something you’d explore? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

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by Kirsten 29.03.2017
Thanks for the insights, Jon. For now, I could see a benefit for implants in the medical sector, e.g. when people have a chronic disease that a mini-implant measures what's in their blood and then only releases as much medication as needed. For sport / leisure, I prefer wearables outside of my body :-) But who knows what I'll say in a couple of years...
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by Jon Kirsten 29.03.2017
Hi Kirsten, thanks for your comment. I have to say I'm still on the fence at the moment, although one thing I've learnt about my attitude to tech developments is "never say never" :)
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