On Tuesday I went to the Stockholm Hardware meetup, which took place at the “Things” office on the campus of our university KTH. “Things” is the Hardware department of the Startup incubator “Sting”. The topic of the evening was biohacking and med tech.
After the initial mingling with food and drinks the first speech started, which was recorded and can be rewatched under this Link (once it’s uploaded) together with all the past events.
The first speech was on biohacking itself and how people can benefit from modifying their bodies. The biohacking community is differentiated in four groups:
The Do-It-Yourself-biologists make use of the new democratization of Biotechnology, where anyone can easily do genetic analysis and experiment with bacteria using products like for example the Bento Lab.
This describes the idea of measuring your own body to get as much data as possible and therefore learn more about yourself. For example, Blood levels, Sleep cycles, Brainwaves, Body temperature… All things that can be measured given the right tools. An example of these measuring tools can be found at the end of this post.
People who don’t want to artificially modify the body, but who use methods of the Quantified self in combination with Bodybuilding to bring their bodies to extreme performance.
People who insert Implants or other modifications into their bodies, either for looks (see image above) or to gain new abilities. These implants can be for example small magnets that get implanted into the fingertips to give you a magnetic sixth sense. Another widely spread example is a small RFID Chip (radio-frequency identification) that is embedded in Biocompatible glass and then implanted into your hand. It stores information and can be used to open your house door or pay a bill. During an event they had organized, people could get these implants for free and the demographic spectrum was very wide. Some seniors had the implant for not having to worry about losing their keys anymore, and some young people just wanted to transmit their Twitter handle with the swipe of their hand.
The second speech was by a Venture Capitalist who invests a lot in different Hardware startups. He said that even though there are so many purely digital startups growing out of the ground, the hardware startup scene is still very active. He believes that they can contribute a lot to making life easier and better for many people.
He had spent many years in China and said that moving to the city of Shenzhen will drastically increase the speed of product development of electronic products. One week in China is like a month in the West because they have the network of electronics suppliers right at their doorstep. This enables them to run three-week iteration cycles for phone prototypes. For more information he recommended this documentary by WIRED.
Diabetes on autopilot
The last speaker was a guy, who had been living with Diabetes for years and still struggled with calculating the correct amount of Insulin needed at the right time. So he designed a small computer that reads several of his bio-signals and calculates the right dose of insulin which is then sent to his insulin pump, that he always carries on him. This development made his life a lot easier in the last few months because he doesn’t have to pay that much attention to his diabetes anymore and he also wakes up in the morning with his blood sugar levels perfectly in order.
And here is the promised gadget that uses quantified self technology: A headset with attached cat ears, that measures your brain activity and then display the level of your focus by either directing the ears to the front or have then wiggle around aimlessly.
I feel like this device stands representative for the entire evening: Super nerdy but highly interesting. I will definitely come again, especially because the topic of next month’s meeting will be “Wireless” and I have a direct connection to that with my Sound Hub idea. So signup here and join me on November 16th for the STHLM Hardware Meetup #8.