iPod Body Mod: magnetic wrist piercings become mount for Apple iPod Nano

REUTERS/Keith Bedford

Tattoo artist Dave Hurban displays an iPod Nano which he has attached to his wrists through magnetic piercings in his wrist in New York, May 14, 2012. Reuters has an interview with him here.

"I just invented the strapless watch," he said on Monday of his Apple Inc device, set to display a clock.

Hurban cheerfully recounted how he mapped out the four corners of the iPod on his arm and then inserted four titanium studs into his skin. Once the incisions healed, he popped on his iPod, which is held in place magnetically.

"It's way simpler than you think it is," said Hurban.

Below, Durban's HOWTO video for the project he calls "iDermal," explaining how he pulled it off. Not that he can just, you know, pull them off now.


  1. I’ve seen the YouTube video depicting Dave performing the procedure on himself. They’re not surface piercings in the “traditional” sense, but microdermals (single-point piercings, the base of each featuring holes for tissue to heal through.) They’re substantially more stable than surface piercings with two entry/exit holes, but attaching a non-sterile electronic device to them immediately after piercing is an incredibly unsterile move that this fellow should know better about.

    1. I wasn’t even thinking of the sterility factor, but what would be keeping the magnetic studs in place. If he’d just placed them there and immediately attached the iPod (as it looks in the video), what would stop them from staying with the iPod when he pulled it away?

      However, the article clearly says “Once the incisions healed, he popped on his iPod, which is held in place magnetically.” I guess it’s editing that makes this look wrong.

      1.  OK, so this guy is implanting metal into his body, which his body may reject.  But the metal is conducting a magnetic field.  THEN he’s magnetically attaching a battery and circuitry conducting electrical fields.  Y’know, smoking used to be the way cool kids gave themselves cancer, and I’m inclined to think it still is  (*・_・)ノ⌒*

        1. Is there any evidence that permanent magnets and non-transmitting iPods cause cancer??

          The cool kids smoke to give themselves cancer because there’s actual, you know, science backing that up.

          1. >Is there any evidence that permanent magnets and non-transmitting iPods cause cancer?

            no, i don’t know of any evidence, but that’s the obverse of the same coin.  i suppose i was being hyperbolic about cancer specifically, but _I_ wouldn’t want to be the case study for how all those electromagnetic fields are going to affect my cells.  cellular exposure to unusual stimuli, particularly at such close proximity, tends to have an effect.  neither he, you, nor I know what that effect will be. why gamble that the effect will be benign?

    1. This is a problem now.

      It won’t be once the intermediate technology of the MRI is replaced in a few years.

      Of course, given a few years, the non-metallic implants which mirror the rest of the common, mundane technology, it will be safe in the new scanners and the legacy MRI machines.

      But, bullshit aside, yeah, wait till he needs an MRI…

  2. What better way to show your support for a company known to make radical design changes than a permanent implant? Sounds perfect to me. #internetsarcasm

  3. Funny, but way too freaky for me.  But then again, so are tattoos larger than an old silver dollar, so what do I know?

  4. Couldn’t he have just SuperGlue©ed the metal studs to his skin.  The glue would wear out about the same time he got tired of the idea.

  5. Aw, come on.  They’re magnets.  1,001 uses, not just for iPods.  Use yer imaginations, folks.

    Maybe not so good for watch movements, but not a bad place to stash a wrench or two while working under the hood.  Or a maglite.

  6. I don’t see how the scar tissue can heal around the magnet tight enough to make aerobe- and water-tight seal.

    1. It doesn’t need to. The implanted bit is a surgical-grade post with a butterfly on the bottom: the skin heals around that, anchoring it in place, and the base of the thing doesn’t move so it forms a tight seal.  The magnet just screws on top (traditionally (for values of “traditionally” in body-modification innovation) the screw-on has been a jewel or other shiny).

  7. So, I guess a wrist strap for his iPod was out of the question? I could understand if he was trying to find accessories for a non-Apple product but there is a surplus of Apple carry-along goods he could get that would serve the same function as magnetic piercings.

  8. The strapless watch was invented in the 16th century. They were called pocket watches.

  9. In this era of uber surveillance where we are all criminals until proven innocent  I don’t understand why people would make themselves so identifiable with tats, piercings, etc. I may be paranoid but the future doesn’t look too good for sub-culture types, dissenters, etc. Anonymity might be the better part of valor not to mention self preservation.

    1. The thing about political dissent is, people who are big into body-modding tend to not get involved.
      Far too narcissistic.

    2.  That is why you keep your tats where they aren’t public knowledge.  Also, it may by easier to be identified by a LACK of piercings in the culture that we live in …in North America.

  10. Also, they make this thing…you might of heard of it…been using it forever…and really works well, a watchband.  

    /Yeah, I know. I know…bandless watch…I get it.

  11.  I may be wrong, but I always thought it was a good idea to keep magnets AWAY from electronic storage devices…

    1. It’s not like these things have tape drives – flash memory doesn’t roll like that, if I’m remembering correctly. 

  12. Call me a Luddite, but I find the concept of someone augmenting their body to interface with a consumer product dystopian and depressing.

    If this was something medically useful, say a monitoring device for someone with a heart condition, I’d be impressed.
    I think body-modification is an individuals right if they want to do it, and I’ve played with it myself, but I actually find this person to be pathetic.

    1. Came here to say essentially this.   

      To me, tattooing corporate logos on a human being, even/especially when it’s Harley Davidson, is kinda like denying your own personality, your own humanity.  Modifying your body Putting your body’s health at risk for a throw-away non-essential consumer product is like willingly becoming a cog in a soulless sociopathic machine.  A soulless cog.


      1. Flash memory uses floating gate transistors to store data, rather than the magnetic method used by hard disks. The presence of a magnetic field is not necessary a problem for an SSD, but the rate of change of magnetic flux could cause damage:

        CFs [Compact Flash drives] aren’t magnetic media, so they can’t be erased like, say, a floppy disk or a hard drive. However, depending on the strength of the magnetic field, a CF isn’t completely safe. For instance, if you were to do an MRI of your CF (or any other piece of sensitive electronic circuitry, for that matter), it would be toast. It’s not simply the strength of the magnetic field that matters, so much as the rate at which the field changes. If you go from strong field to no field very quickly or vice versa, then the change in magnetic flux can generate small voltages over wires, traces, etc. If the voltages are high enough, then they can cause damage.

  13. I’m actually surprised this works. I was under the impression the Nano was made of aluminum throughout.
    But, augmenting yourself to accept a consumer entertainment product? Nothing to celebrate there, I’m afraid.

  14. Funny thing is, Lukas Zpira already did a much more interesting implant project called MATSI back in ’10.

    Microdermal implants on the wrists tend not to last very long (I have 4 in my stomach, they’ve been there 4 years), let alone if they’re having to support extra weight all the time.It’s a cool gimmick, but nothing more.

  15. “…a flat lozenge of vat grown flesh that lay on a carved pedestal of imitation jade. The color of its skin reminded him of Zone’s whores; it was tattooed with a luminous digital display wired to a subcutaneous chip. Why bother with the surgery, he found himself thinking, while sweat coursed down his ribs, when you could just carry the thing around in your pocket?”

  16. I like the idea of this. I wonder the effects of having magnets hovering on the surface of a wrist. I bet we will start seeing more of this on the scene in the coming months.

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