Top 10 DIY Biohacking Resources
Written by Lawrence Miller for BDYHAX 2018
Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned biohacker, you may find new ideas and help from others beneficial to your next adventure. Check out these online and IRL resources to kickstart your next project.
Did you know you can browse TED Talks by topic? They have a lot of category tags to choose from, making it easy to watch several videos on the same topic. You can find an alphabetical list of maintained tags here. Here are some topics Biohackers and Cyborgs are sure to enjoy:
Augmented reality, Biomimicry, Cognitive science, Cyborg, Disability, Evolution, Fashion, Molecular biology, Neuroscience, Prosthetics, Senses, Synthetic biology, Virtual reality.
3D printing repositories
Some online collections of 3D printable objects make it easy to find a prosthetic hand, one-handed tools, or other accessibility technology. Check the navigation panes and search bars of online repositories to see if they have a category tag for accessibility, gadgets, or tools.
This online community connects biohackers to new projects and people, local communities, and safety experts. With over 100 local chapters world wide, DIY Bio offers a large network of resources for hackers and scientists. Check to see if your city has a DIY Bio lab here.
This blog from 2013
Biohacker and blogger Winslow Strong has been keeping a sparse blog since 2012 – sparse because he doesn’t post daily or weekly. It seems like Strong only posts when there’s something to say. As a result, just about every post is useful. This list of people and projects is a gold mine for amateurs and experts alike. Strong has an especially strong focus on teaching critical thinking and scientific rigor to prevent self-deception from bunk.
“Despite there being a lot of information out there on potential biohacks, there’s a real lack of material that teaches people how to properly perform self-experiments and analyze the results to avoid fooling oneself.” – biohackyourself.com/ 2013/01/19
Winslow Strong has made a good effort to teach others how to critically evaluate biohacks. Check out the blog!
Note: The most recent post at time of this publication was in 2015. We have reached out to Strong to find out if the blog is still active. We have not received any comment.
At the forefront of implantable technology, Dangerous Things has a reputation for the cool and unusual. They offer community support and advocacy for the dangerous toys they sell. With products from their online store, you can implant novel wireless devices under the skin, by yourself or with the help of a body piercer.
Related: Dangerous Things founder Amal Graafstra compiled a guide on making your own RFID connected projects. You can find the guide and user forum here. Or if facebook is more your style, check out Dangerous Things’ implantee facebook group.
Assistive technology & local consultations
If you have a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability, learning disability, or psychological disorder, you might be interested in using technology to enable independence.
Local community groups can offer specific recommendations for consultants and technologies. If you are a college student, search your institution’s website for a disability resources department.
Many assistive technology manufacturers and distributors have their own websites, which may be harder to find for a first-time buyer. Although some sellers such as AbleNet also list their products on amazon.com.
Even if you’ve consulted with a professional before, it may be worth your time again. Familiar technology may have gotten updates. For example, popular braille reader manufacturer Humanware releases new products about every year. Entirely new technologies also come to market now and then. In 2015, Wicab secured FDA approval of its sensory substitution ‘lollipop’ called BrainPort.
Related: With the potentially prohibitive cost of some devices, you’ll be glad to discover a plethora of free and cheap mobile phone apps. Some phone functions like screen readers and color adjustment for colorblindness might be built right into your operating system. Check your phone settings menu. You might also discover something great by simply searching your phone’s app store for what you need. For example, “medication reminder” or “anxiety relief.” Scientific American reports that most apps have not been clinically tested or proven effective. You should consult with your doctor for helping evaluating any particular app. Though if you cannot afford to do so, the American Psychiatric Association has published a list of evaluation criteria.
This impressive catalog of over 50 experiments and 30 project kits aims to bring neuroscience into the classroom with sophisticated, yet easy to use electronics. Though primarily meant for children, these projects are just as interesting and valuable to adults. Projects include turning cockroaches into cyborgs, communicating with plants, and interfacing with muscles.
This online forum calls itself a “virtual home of grinders everywhere.” Local groups include Grindhouse Wetware, which seasoned hackers and previous BDYHAX attendees will be familiar with. On the forum you will find Q&A about specific surgical procedures, augmentations, drugs, and wearable devices. You can also arrange local meetups, recruit project collaborators, or discuss technology in current events.
Whatever Neil & Moon are up to:
You might know Neil Harbisson from this TED Talk, or from his frequent social and political activism, or maybe from one of the many business ventures and community programs he has started with Moon Ribas. And you might have also seen Moon on one of many video productions featuring her work. The pair have a reputation for creating the new and unusual. Follow Neil and Moon on Twitter and you can be sure to discover new things.
Is there something else you think should have made this list? Tell me about it on Twitter
(@TurtleDynasty) or meet me at #BDYHAX2018!