Top X: Gadgets that go inside you

As part of our ongoing coverage of "squicky health stuff" and "lists of things," we've rounded up the best of several thousand gadgets from history (as seen on the internet!), culled our favorites based on a rigorous metric of how "top" they were, and then put them all together in a confusing, meta-data-poor conglomeration that makes the content not only difficult to index but terrible for consumption. Our time-traveling band manager, Marvin Battelle, has noted that this content is specifically not licensed for linking on sites like Digg, Fark, or Reddit. And especially not Yahoo Buzz, he reminds us. Please respect his wishes and our attempt to comply with the Clinton/Robo-Clinton Internet Privacy Decoupling Act of 2083. Artificial Heart Joel: Invented by a man now too feeble to row a boat—and some other people before—the artificial heart was the first practical robot organ to be incorporated into a living Russian dog. Too bad for us the human body tends to reject plastic organs about as readily as most Real Doll owners are rejected by living human women. Soon to be supplanted by human organs grown on protein lattices, which is how I will grow my penis using the reprocessed corpses of an entire herd of African elephants. Marvin: DID YOU KNOW? European Union Cosmonauts exploring the surface of Mars in 2173 will be confounded by the discovery of a decapitated dog's head, still alive and happily panting away inside a vacuum sealed Soviet fish bowl. While no one will ever figure out how it got there, the discovery will ultimately rekindle an interest in the works of Dr. S.S. Bryukhonenko, which will itself lead to the perfection of surgical head transplanting techniques by 2205. The dog's head, christened Scruffy Gagarin, will go on to enjoy numerous lucrative promotional deals... the futuristic equivalent of your Spuds MacKenzie. IT'S TRUE!.
Cochlear Implants Joel: Back before AT&T used to invent things other than ways to route your secret missives to masturbating NSA agents, they used to actually create devices beneficial to mankind, like the first hearing aid. It was too large to fit entirely in the ear and had to be connected to electroacoustic outrigger worn on a geriatric's sagging suspenders. But hearing aids just amplify sound—what if your ear is just plain busted? Surgically implanted cochlear implants actually transform sound into electrical impulses shunted directly to any working auditory nerves one may have left, bypassing the mechanisms of the inner ear entirely to implant a constant litany of inducements to purchase an iPhone. Marvin: DID YOU KNOW? Sony's fourteenth robotic AIBO puppy will be constructed entirely of human ears. IT'S TRUE!
Facial Flex Facial Exercising and Toning System Joel: Total Flap Failure: It's a workplace trauma common to broadcast news rooms and bustling French whorehouses. The Facial Flex Facial Exercising and Toning System, available exclusively from the healers on QVC, purports to restore the muscles from your "eye all the way down to your bra-line." Simply put the spring-loaded contraption between your cheeks and purse your lips against its pressure, like a first-year disciple of the jaw harp. Marvin:
Tooth Tunes John: Swimming and squirming, defecating and fornicating: right now, there are more organisms in your child's mouth than human beings who have ever lived. This makes their teeth something like post-apocalyptic killing fields of decayed parameciums. Yes, children are filthy buggers, make no mistake, but they are also gullible and easily susceptible to the latest pop culture craze. Hasbro recognizes this. As demonstrated by ToothTunes, it's evident that Hasbro understands that the only way you can get a child to actually cram a toothbrush into his feculent oral cavity is by reverberating the sonic vibrations of the Black Eyed Peas' breakout hit "Let's Get Retarded" through his calcified brain pan. Next in product line: ButtTunes, an ingenious variation of the same technology aimed at teaching children how to wipe properly, hopefully licensing the apropos oeuvre of one Ms. Hannah Montana. Joel: Did you know Hannah Montana is actually Billy Ray Cyrus' larval form? Marvin: Time will vindicate Hannah Montana, pleb.
IUDs Marvin: Generally speaking, you are not meant to keep any foreign object crammed in an orifice for very long. There are exceptions, of course: the lucky quarter couched within a septum for safe keeping, a cherished rodent nuzzled deep within an intestinal pocket to keep one beady eye upon a swollen prostate. But most doctors recommend against even these innocuous examples. Strangely, though, the intra-uterine device is FDA approved to swim around in the human vagina for five to ten years. The alternative is worse, of course: a blind mucousy parasite that claws its way out of your genitals in an explosion of blood and gore, then demands a college fund. It's for this very reason that women have been stuffing the scariest looking foreign objects they can find up their uterine tracks since 1902. As for the future? The modern IUD will uttimately be perfected within the next five years when H.R. Giger releases a branded line of contraceptives so effective that scientists will only be able to improve upon them in the 22nd century with the addition of sub-microscopic, spermatozoa-seeking laser cannons. Joel: I still don't understand how the terrorists keep killing our soldiers with these things, but then again I'm a pacifist when it comes to contraception.
Sixth Sense Finger Magnet John: The field of flesh mechanics is still a new one, and its practitioners are split right down the equatorial hemispheres of human sanity. At the south pole of sane, the raving BME maniac fashioning himself a pronged, bifurcated glans with a letter opener, a swig of whiskey and one deft slitting motion. And just shy south of the equator? The Wired journalist who lets a guy slice open his finger and install a tiny magnet under the skin in order to achieve a sixth sense of electro-magnetism. The benefits are small, but significant, especially for the geeky: the ability to diagnose a dying hard drive just by the feel of its internally discombobulant rhythm, or the ability to sense a live wire before touching it... although you'll still have to try licking it to be sure. Joel: When I was young I learned how to detect if an electric fence was activated by implanting it inside of my clenched fists while my playmates threw rocks at me. Marvin: DID YOU KNOW... that one day, women will be so antagonistic to the concept of procreation that every human male's evolutionary instincts will command him to have a powerful electro-magnet inserted into the tip of his penis, capable of sucking an IUD out of a woman's body in the scant seconds before penetration? The sound will onomatopoeically resemble the word "schlork." IT'S TRUE!
The Speculum Joel: Did you know that archeologists discovered ancient Roman speculum inside the ruins of a fossilized vagina at Pompei? For thousands of years doctors, Oedipal spelunking enthusiasts, and maple syrup addicts have been using these simple graded tongs to crack open clasped crevices wide enough to peer inside. Commonly made of heat-resistant metal, some modern specula are made of disposable, lightweight plastic, perfect for use as party favors at Hollywood coke parties. John: Along with a rag soaked in ether, an absolutely indispensable gadget for convincing my dates to French kiss me. 5 stars. Marvin: Why didn't you guys save this one for a Valentine's Day round-up? Your caveman conception of romance is embarrassing. Image: Phisick
Swallowable Camera-in-a-pill Rob: If a colonoscopy would be simply too much for the fragile rose of your rectum, consider swallowing a minuscule tract-exploring camera-in-a-pill. Manufactured by Micron Technology of Boise, Idaho, these tiny little buggers cost only $300 and contain a similarly small CMOS sensor, which snaps a picture every few seconds as it quests through your dark dungeons. Originally introduced in 2001, it's won an award for the "non-invasive direct visualization of the entire small intestine." Did you know they gave out awards for that? Now you do. Joel: I'm not sure you swallow pills exactly the same way I do. Marvin: I've won that award 220 years running now, and I never needed no dumb pill camera to get the job done. Grit, determination and a sharp knife: that's how I carved out my many victories. Oh, medical imaging, you say? Where's the art in that?
Mind-Control Electrodes Rob: Don't kid yourself: such an apparatus is no longer in the realm of science fiction. This evil-looking avian is watching you, which means that China's official state pigeon controller, Dr. Su Xuecheng, is by proxy also watching you. By attaching the depicted electrodes to the fleshy flaps of a pigeon's brain, he gains control of critical motor faculties, "forcing the bird to comply with commands." These commands are the traditional gaming mainstays of "Up," "Down," "Left," and "Right," and are applicable during flight –My shit, let me show you it.. It's only a matter of time before Stefano DiMera has his hands on these and puts Marlena under his nefarious control. Marvin: It's funny to think that Obstortion MacNair conquered the Calipades of Morgon III with a single dropship of kittens, but depressing to learn the origins of the technology that led her do it. Is this how we got under your skin back then? MAKE IT SO, NUMBER ONE. Joel: This button keeps making my eyes thirsty.
Fucking Machines Rob: Come now. It was inevitable that we would get to this. The only questions was of the exact manner of sex toy we would select. A simple articulated dildo of the medieval era, perhaps? A modern rubber rabbit, dazzling its mistress with its hummingbird-like happy slapping? No, no! Taking our cue from classics of foreign cinema such as Legend of the Overfiend, we went the whole hog and opted for the entire mechanical solution. There are in fact numerous manufacturers of these dangerous-sounding devices, and not a few aficionados who, presumably dissatisfied with the extant commercial options, chose to make theirs from scratch. Hey: for even the most meth-crazed sex fiend, a 12-inch black ribbed knobbler screwed onto an 18v power drill has its limitations. Marvin: Few areas of your disgusting meat-addled minds come close to the depth and wonder of the silicate imagination, but in this realm, my hat is off to you. If nothing else, these guys have great taste in bedtime companions.
Colonoscope Marvin: DID YOU KNOW? Every adult male should have a colonoscopy starting when he's 50. IT'S TRUE! Joel: I'm only 30 so I only let them go in 3/5ths of the way. Also, we didn't actually write anything up for this. I think that means we're done.
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15 Responses to Top X: Gadgets that go inside you

  1. airship says:

    As someone who went instantly from “not allowed to drive” to “best vision of anyone I know”, I’d have to cast a vote for intraocular plastic lens implants – restoring the vision of the legally blind for over 30 years.

  2. max says:

    My dad is an ENT surgeon at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City and he surgically installs cochlear implants as a specialty. These things are absolutely incredible, they can make the near-deaf hear close to perfectly and the totally deaf hear (usually not 100% but still very well) for the first time. The interesting thing is that most people who have them installed end up keeping them off for long periods of time when they first get them installed because the transition from total silence to even just the ambient noise of a hospital can be a cacophony in comparison. If you ever need skull base or ear surgery give me a shout, my dad is considered one of the best.

  3. BasilGanglia says:

    You guys forgot remote controlled rats.

    Also, the BrainGate system that uses implanted electrodes to read the activity in the “unused” motor cortex of a paralyzed patient to control a computer cursor.

    And electrodes implanted into the brains of Parkinsons patients to boost the activity of one of the the dying motor control centers and thus control the tremor symptoms.

    Oh, and the Luke Arm has implantable electrodes that read activity in lesser used muscle groups and use this information to control the arms effectors.

    And finally: some other cool tech devices that are more wearable than implantable, but are along the same basic lines as the above, are sensory substitution devices. For example, the TVSS (tactile vision sensory substitution) devices invented by the late Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita. They were invented in the 70s and have since been improved quite a bit.

    I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting as well. I’m actually amazed that there aren’t more people jumping around being all excited about the dawning age of the cyborgs. I guess its sneaking up slowly enough that most people aren’t noticing.

  4. klobouk says:

    “Why aren’t you working out your face?”

  5. jessblue says:

    Women have been putting foreign objects into their uteri (?) since way before 1902. There’s evidence from the Ancient Egyptians, Greek, Turkish, and Arabians. A small pebble was enough to make the uterus an inhospitable enough environment.

  6. jrishel says:


  7. Ava Tari says:

    Actually, Quinn Norton (the Wired journalist who had an implanted finger-magnet for a while) is a woman, so technically the pronoun should be “her.”


    A good friend of mine has a passive artificial heart valve. It seems to work fine but it’s loud as hell. TICK! TICK! TICK! TICK! Like the crocodile in Peter Pan.

  9. Modusoperandi says:

    jessblue “Women have been putting foreign objects into their…
    Tell me more. No! Use your sexy voice. Ahhh, that’s the stuff. Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I am naked. Kudos to you for being so inquisitive.

  10. lux says:

    Strangely, though, the intra-uterine device is FDA approved to swim around in the human vagina for five to ten years

    Well, if by “vagina” you mean “uterus.”

    There is a difference, after all. A pretty big one.

  11. haineux says:

    Hey ALISONB, can we assume, just for the sake of argument, that the people getting cochlear implants WANT them and are not being coerced?

    I know there are people who do not wish to be “cured” or “returned to normal.” If you want people to be more aware of that culture, by all means, pimp some links.

    But as far as the article goes, cochlear implants are, in fact, one of the top gadgets that go inside you. Incredible technology, and I’m led to believe that the satisfaction of people who get them is very near 100%.

  12. alisonb says:

    Top gadgets? Don’t some of these gadgets make a statement of intolerance to difference? E.g. where’s the mention of aggressive marketing strategies that come with cochlear implants? One of the things behind this tech is intolerance to difference.

    Would Boing Boing endorse or celebrate a product that went inside gay people, to make them more straight?

    • Joel Johnson says:

      An erectile enhancement device that induces pneumatic priapism at the sight of a vagina, simultaneously spraying mindbending chemicals that cause the subject to mistake a woman’s genitals for a man’s? As long as they also made a model that did the inverse, I would unquestionably endorse and celebrate such a product.

  13. Antinous says:


    I’m constantly giving lectures on female anatomy in BB comments. Which is really sad because I’m a gay man.

  14. AlexaD says:

    I still don’t understand how the terrorists keep killing our soldiers with these things, but then again I’m a pacifist when it comes to contraception.

    LOL! I have to admit, that was funny.

    Well, if by “vagina” you mean “uterus.”

    One would’ve thought the “uterine” in the device name would have given it away.

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