I've always been captivated by biohackers who implant tiny magnets under their skin, giving themselves the ability to physically feel magnetic fields (yes, honestly, it's a thing). However, I'm not quite dedicated enough to go through the hassle (or commitment) of actually going under the knife.
In this month's Nature Communications, a team of scientists have published something that could offer a magnetic sense to those of us who don't want surgery: a thin, flexible foil that can sense magnetic fields. In theory, you could stick this on like a plaster, and tap into the invisible magnet world surrounding our dull daily lives.
Acquiring a magnetic sense is more than just a party trick for biohackers: it's a form of sensory augmentation. Since everything with an electric current generates a magnetic field of some size, it can prove useful for people who work with electronics, allowing them to separate live and dead wires by feel.
Sadly, it'll be a while until you can stick a magnetic plaster on and sense electric motors: while the foil is great for detecting magnetic fields, feedback is currently relegated to a screen. But it's a promising step along my lifelong desire to get shark-like senses. [Nature via Gizmag]