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crunchyblanket
04-06-2012, 12:50 AM
There's a character in my novel who has a brain implant - the idea is that he 'downloads' information from computers/devices and the implant acts like a hard drive, storing that information. Similar to Johnny Mnemonic, but he can access the information at will.

At the moment, I've got it so that he uses an intermediary device (a modified mobile phone) in order to connect to whatever device he's trying to download from. To use it, he effectively plugs it into a jack in the back of his skull, which he disguises with a silicone plug.

My question is: is this feasible, or would he be opening himself up to all sorts of infections? The hole is covered (a la Jackie Chan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armour_of_God_%28film%29)) at all times unless he's 'plugged in'. Would that be a sufficient infection control measure, or would the risk be too great?

Being that this is set in the future, where implants and modifications are quickly becoming commonplace, there's no real reason I couldn't have him connect wirelessly, or using electrodes, so the jack isn't really necessary - it just sounds more interesting :D

Thanks!

ironmikezero
04-06-2012, 12:59 AM
Ooh, very Ghost in the Shell... I like it. I'd think that avoiding actual skull penetration might be a more pragmatic approach - love the wireless concept. Maybe a mini-jack in the soft tissue near the back of the neck (input for legacy devices)?

KatieJ
04-06-2012, 01:04 AM
Could the silicone plug be impregnated with antibiotics?
And/or could it be disposable, so that the part that "fills" (can't think of a good medical term) the opening remains sterile?

veinglory
04-06-2012, 01:29 AM
IMHO there would need to be an impermeable barrier between the brain and the outside air as well as the device even even it is jacked in. Like a data catheter--so that what literally goes into the anatomical zone containing the fluid/neurons etc is pure data/software--not hardware.

Snick
04-06-2012, 01:33 AM
Not only is it feasible, but there re people who are going around with a plugs installed in their skulls no. If you search, then you surely will find something about such people. I believe that the technlogy is similar to having an implanted pacemaker.

skylark
04-06-2012, 01:39 AM
I don't see why it would have to be an infection risk. The socket can be physically sealed between inside and outside at all times - there only needs to be an electrical connection, no? Solid metal will be just fine for that.

lbender
04-06-2012, 01:58 AM
I don't see why it would have to be an infection risk. The socket can be physically sealed between inside and outside at all times - there only needs to be an electrical connection, no? Solid metal will be just fine for that.

This. No reason for there not to be an intermediary connection to plug into with no connection other than data entry to the brain.

Drachen Jager
04-06-2012, 03:16 AM
Look up Trepanning. People have had holes drilled in their skulls for tens of thousands of years to either let bad sprits out, or let the good ones in. Evidence, even in primitive skulls shows that it doesn't significantly impair lifespan.

The blood-brain barrier (which is what prevents infections) is not a part of the skull.

shaldna
04-06-2012, 05:45 PM
At the moment, I've got it so that he uses an intermediary device (a modified mobile phone) in order to connect to whatever device he's trying to download from. To use it, he effectively plugs it into a jack in the back of his skull, which he disguises with a silicone plug.

My question is: is this feasible, or would he be opening himself up to all sorts of infections? The hole is covered (a la Jackie Chan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armour_of_God_%28film%29)) at all times unless he's 'plugged in'. Would that be a sufficient infection control measure, or would the risk be too great?

Being that this is set in the future, where implants and modifications are quickly becoming commonplace, there's no real reason I couldn't have him connect wirelessly, or using electrodes, so the jack isn't really necessary - it just sounds more interesting :D

Thanks!

It's totally possible. In fact, I know one woman who has had a hearing implant in her skull - she was deaf in one ear and they put a little plug (it looks like a popper) into her deaf side skull, just behind her ear. a special hearing aid can then be connected to it - without having to use the ears at all.

The hearing aid literally clips onto the little stud that's left in the head - so that's an option for you too - that there's already a clip or stud to attach to, rather than just a hole.

Astronomer
04-06-2012, 06:53 PM
There are electrical bulkhead connectors made for the purpose, but another alternative would be to go wireless. If the implant were WiFi compatible (frex), your character could also take advantage of hotspots to secretly (as far as appearances go) access the Internet. The wireless alternative, however, doesn't have that gritty SF factor you may be going for.

I really like the fact that your character has to use an intermediary device. That lends a certain "in development" quality to it that makes it seem more plausible.

Priene
04-06-2012, 06:54 PM
Look up Trepanning. .

Trepanning makes me shudder.

veinglory
04-06-2012, 06:57 PM
The wireless option has interesting possibilities re: being "hacked"

crunchyblanket
04-06-2012, 10:33 PM
I could ditch the intermediary and either have him plug in directly (which would be harder to keep discreet - the intermediary is disguised as a mobile phone, and the jack disguised as a headset) or wireless. I wasn't entirely sure whether wireless connection between a brain implant and an external device was possible.

Shaldna, that sounds pretty much exactly like what my character has :)

Thanks for the help!

BDSEmpire
04-07-2012, 11:16 PM
The wireless option has interesting possibilities re: being "hacked"

"Good lord, are you okay Johnny Protagonist? You just collapsed and oh... I'm so sorry, it looks like you've peed yourself."

Johnny took off his razor-thin carbon fiber nanoshades and put on his even cooler memplastic ultrashades. Brushing off the front of his pants he turned to Cherry von Ultravixen. "Must be an unregistered microwave. They should post a sign," he drawled laconically.



What's that, you're not writing a sendup of cyberpunk action thrillers from the late 80's and early 90's? Oh, carry on then.

Edit: Check this cool paper from 1998 out, it talks about a cortical implant as part of a way to stimulate optic receptors: http://www.users.on.net/~arkanite/uni/NeuralInterfaceCorticalVisionProsthesis.PDF