A Reasonably Priced Sixth Sense

I've been enamored with body modifications that have utilitarian value. On my left forearm I have a 8" ruler tattoo which I frequently use to measure wire lengths and plumbing pipe diameter. In the web of my left hand I have a RFID tag which I've used on home door locks and for my fire trampoline. Now I'm wearing magnet rings so that I can feel magnetic fields. I've tried two different models of rings so far. The first was a metallic magicians ring purchased off e-bay for less than $5. The magnet was strong and the ring held up, but I didn't care for the look. A new friend from Seattle who turned me onto magnetic rings suggested I try a epoxy coated magnet ring. I prefer the look, feel and size of the black epoxy ring. I also like that it is not conductive in case I'm working with live wires. It is smooth to the touch and made from slightly more powerful rare earth magnets (N50).

What can I sense?

Obviously I can tell when I'm near a material with lots of iron. The ring regularly grabs door knobs, silver ware and knives. Cooking with cast iron has become a new challenge as the ring likes to snap against the metal potentially burning my fingers.

I feel cell phone calls in a new way. The speaker pulls the ring closer to the phone.

My favorite surprise sensation was stirring a cup of hot buttered rum during christmas dinner and noticing a pulsing in my ringed hand that was holding the mug. Each time the metal spoon made a trip around the mug I could sense it passing.

Finally, the most intense sensation I have felt is holding the electric cord on the tea kettle while heating up water. When the ring is within 1" of the cord I feel a strong vibration that is disturbing. It almost feels like being electrocuted minus the shock. 120V @ 10A feels bizarre. I've not experienced a larger load.

I have yet to place the ring near any spinning motors like fans.


bbum said...

If you use a tiny magnet (like those from a hard drive), you can likely feel even weaker fields because it takes less energy to make the magnet vibrate.

Actually, I suspect it is just different.

In any case, you might want to give a tiny magnet a try:


And, yes, there are folks that embed such a magnet in their skin to permanently add such a sense. Tempting. Reports indicate that our brains are quite happy to rewire a bit to integrate the sense into all our other sensory inputs in a much more permanent fashion.

dkg said...

left hand... are you two married?

Wolfin said...

Stoked to get a ring after reading this - but their smallest size is 8.5 (18.5 mm inner diameter).

My fingers measure about 16.5 mm (size 6)...

Mikey Sklar said...


I have pretty small hands and have been wearing their smallest 8.5 which fits perfectly. Perhaps that size might fit well on another finger or thumb?

[sacred squid] said...

hey mike,

I also have a RFID Implant but I also have the magnetic implant in my right ring finger tip. Some of the best 'pull' that I can geet on it, is from soda machines in restaurants.

alt42 said...

Posted this on hackaday, but thought I'd ask you what you think here.

I was thinking about how you might use a Hall effect sensor in order to use an attached magnet as a form of user input. Perhaps working with an electromagnet (eg, in a mouse) to feedback to the ring when some event happens.

I don't have a magnet at the moment, so I'd be interested to know what you think.

Mikey Sklar said...


I believe that a reed relay could be used for both tactile feedback and activation of devices.

When a relay is trigger a magnetic field is created which the ring would detect if it is in close enough proximity. A reed relay could also be triggered from N.O. to a closed state completing the circuit for a larger actuator being controlled.

Jan said...

Very interesting to see people exploring their limits. One question I have to ask is, are you worried about the longevity of your implants? I ask because a couple of years ago Quinn Norton ended up with a fingerful of magnet fragments; have you found a way to avoid that?

PS. I dug up a link for a video by Quinn Norton, here:

bookmunkie said...

I never wanted the implant because about a year after I first heard about them I started seeing reports of them breaking up and requiring removal. The ring seems like a good alternative, but does it cause problems or interference with other electronics? I know I'm not going to demagnetize my debit cards or anything.

KWak said...

Has the ring effected you when using a laptop?

Mikey Sklar said...

@jan: I'm not worried about the longevity of my RFID tag. I had read about the magnets breaking up under the skin and opted to skip a magnet implant and just try the ring. Apparently that issue has been resolved to some degree. Better epoxy, maybe?

Mikey Sklar said...


When I use the laptop I feel a slight tug on the ring. There are some metallic areas that the ring is attracted to. I've not had any negative effects with the ring near electronics (yet).

KWak said...

I guess my biggest concern when using a laptop is the hard drive. I have 2 in mine and the ring would be above both during long periods of use. I would hate to have my two drives damaged from experimenting with a magnetic ring.

Geekfest said...

I'm definitely getting one of these. They have two types listed on the website you linked, one is magnetized through the thickness (in line with the fingers) and the other through the diameter. Which one did you get?

Unknown said...

I am looking to simulate a magnetic finger implant, so I'm interested in Geekfests question.
Did you get across the thickness or diameter? Which would be best to simulate a magnetic implant?

Unknown said...

I'm interested in simulating a magnetic finger implant, which would be best for that. Magnetized through the thickness or diameter?