Useful Body Modifications - The Ruler Tattoo

Useful body modifications are body mods that have some sort of special utility, beyond being aesthetically pleasing. For example, consider Mikey's ruler tattoo.


(Mikey's ruler tattoo)

The ruler tattoo was done in Mexico; Mikey works in construction and printed circuit design. He no longer has to look far for a ruler.

“While the tattooist was doing the first inch of near my wrist I was fidgeting and holding my arm in a bizarre position,” he explains. “Now to get the ruler close to full accuracy I need to put my arm in a ridiculous position and the ruler is about 1/4" off no matter what position.”

Another useful body modification is the implantation of small magnets just beneath the skin. They will move slightly in response to electromagnetic fields, giving the owner a sixth sense. Shannon Larratt tried it; although he's had some problems with the magnets he likes it.


(Implanting several small magnets)

First of all, let me say that I’ve been very happy with my magnetic implants so far, and that I understood the risks (and accepted the unknowns) coming into this. The experience of developing another sense (or at least a pseudo-sense that extends my ability to “touch” in new directions) has been very exciting and illuminating, and I wouldn’t want to give that up.

Pierced glasses are another instance; James Sooy and Oliver Gibson came up with this design.


(Pierced Glasses)

The first person I can think of with this sort of idea was Samuel R. Delany in his 1968 novel Babel 17. He wrote a lot about decorative implants, but he also dealt with useful body modifications.

I think I get a pretty good match (sf-to-reality-wise); I seem to recall a pilot with a stellarimeter grafted to the palm of his hand.

Readers may also recall the microsofts from William Gibson's Neuromancer and the skullgun from The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson.

Read more about ruler tattoos, implanted magnets and pierced glasses. Thanks to the reader who submitted the tip on the ruler tattoo.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/28/2008)

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