The Future Is Here
We may earn a commission from links on this page

The Latest Trend Among Biohackers Is Implanting LED Lights Beneath Your Skin

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Inspired by bioluminescent organisms, the DIY biohackers at Grindhouse Wetware have unveiled their latest creation—a magnetically activated, LED-equipped silicone implant.

As Motherboard reports, the Pittsburgh-based biohacking collective performed three implantations in conjunction with a simultaneous operation in Dusseldorf last Saturday. The new light-up device, dubbed the Northstar V1, is about the size of a large coin, making it considerably smaller than an earlier version, the Circadia 1.0 computer chip. The procedure to implant the device required only 15 minutes (gory pictures here), and was performed under strict conditions.


Once implanted and activated, the Northstar device can backlight existing tattoos or mimic bioluminescence. When a magnet is placed on the device, its five LED lights start to blink. After ten seconds, it goes back into sleep mode. The Grindhouse guys think it’ll light up about 10,000 times before the batteries die out and can no longer be recharged. Once this happens the device will have to be surgically removed. (Photo credit: Grindhouse Wetware/Ryan O’Shea)


When Motherboard’s Anna Neifer asked why his team developed the device, Grindhouse Wetware cofounder Tim Cannon said: “You know, people from the biohacking community wanted it. They contacted us because they wanted to light up their tattoos. That’s how we generate our implants, we let the community inspire us.”

(Credit: Grindhouse Wetware/Ryan O’Shea)

The group plans on making the device available next year. Ideally, Grindhouse would like to sell as many as 100 Northstar V1 devices through tattoo studios worldwide.


Looking to the future, Grindhouse has big plans. A future version of the chip could, in addition to its cosmetic functionality, deliver important biometric information to an external device like a phone. Another neat feature will be the ability of the chip to register a person’s hand movements, and wirelessly relay those signals to receiving device. It would serve as a customizable hands-free controller. You’ll never have to say, “Hey Siri” again.

There’s much more at Motherboard.

Email the author at and follow him at @dvorsky. Top image by Grindhouse Wetware/Ryan O’Shea