MTV's "True Life: I'm A Cyborg" followed three people who call themselves "grinders" and are using technology to become half-human, half-machine. We had an opportunity to check in with Ben, Justin and Bird to see how their lives have changed since filming wrapped. Take a look at our follow-up Q&As below:
What projects have you been working on since your Bluetooth device failed?
Since my head implant was a bust, I have been trying to do some more testing on vibrating things and electronics in the resin. I'm working on a better version of the Northstar right now. I figure I can implant in my hand before moving to my head. It will tell me if I have the same issues that Grindhouse did with their silicone killing the battery or not. It'll also have a vibrating motor in it so I can test how much I feel the vibrations under my skin. It also has 12 LEDs so I can use it as a watch, and they all change color so I can see who texts me. It's pretty cool, but it's all a test. I have also been doing some more testing with the resin to see if I can make a thin-enough coating for it to coat finger magnets -- this would bring the cost of a finger magnet down from around $60 to under $5. So I think it would be a hugely beneficial thing for all grinders.
Have you gotten any new implants since the filming of the show?
The last implant I had was the homemade ones in the side of my hand, and they are almost all healed up and I don't seem to be reacting to the resin in a bad way. So the test is a success!
Does your son want to be a grinder?
Charles-Winston is a bit young to even understand what I am doing. But he does like playing with the flashing lights on the implants that aren't in yet. So maybe he will want to be when he is older.
How long will it be till you develop another Bluetooth device?
I'm pretty sure I will have another device (I hope that works) by the end of January. Follow me on Twitter @ben_beezy to check up on my future projects!
Do you want to implant the Northstar or a similar device?
I have been designing my own Northstar that is rechargeable, has 12 color changing LEDs, Bluetooth, a temp sensor, NFC and rumble motor! I think mine is a bit cooler than the current Northstar.
Is your mom more understanding of your grinder lifestyle since the filming of the show? What about your dad?
My mom is still not happy with me grinding, but I think since she saw how clean I made sure things are and really research and understand what I am doing, she is more okay with it now. My dad thinks my Bluetooth implant is pretty cool! He has helped me with it a bit through the process of making it. I'm sure he is still worried about it being dangerous, and I know he can't watch things being put in. He was there for one of my finger magnets and he was ooked out.
How do people at social venues react to your Northstar implant?
The reaction I get at social venues always depends on the individual person. If I see someone who knows that I have it, they are always excited to see it. If I see someone I know who doesn't know about my Northstar, I usually get a very surprised excitement, and once they realize what I have, they think it is cool. If I see someone I don't know, it's usually a curiosity. Overall reactions in public have been very favorable, with most people being very interested by it.
When is Grindhouse releasing the Northstar V1 to consumers?
We haven't decided on a release date for the Northstar yet. We are going to start taking pre-orders in the beginning of January, and the release date will depend on the interest we generate from the pre-release.
Is Grindhouse developing any other types of implantable devices?
At the moment, the only implantable devices Grindhouse is working on are related to the Northstar and different versions of that.
Will you be training for Ninja Warrior again?
Yes. I love rock climbing and will continue to do that no matter what. I was involved with video production work in high school, but I don't get to do it that often anymore. I figure I might as well keep submitting videos to Ninja Warrior. I'm already doing the training, and I enjoy getting to record and edit the footage.
Are there any upcoming grinding events in which Grindhouse will be participating?
Some of our members are going to Bodyhacking Con at the end of February, but there aren't any events at the moment that Grindhouse is officially participating in as an organization. That being said, we're constantly taking media requests, so that could change at any moment. The best way to stay up-to-date on any events we plan on attending is to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Do you feel more confident with the Northstar? Is it a chick magnet?
I don't think the Northstar has positively or negatively impacted my confidence. I'm always more than happy to show it off and talk about it. Sometimes I like to just turn it on while I'm standing in line at the store or standing in a bar, to see what sort of reaction I get from people. Girls seem to act more interested in it than guys, so I guess you could call it a chick magnet.
How do people at work react to your Northstar implant?
I've gotten a few second glances and some questions, but everyone seems to think it's pretty neat.
Are you working with Grindhouse on any new projects?
There's programming for the V2, plus more Bottlenose updates and some Neural Network Machine learning practice for another eventual project
Are you working on any new projects on your own?
I've started gathering supplies to make myself a neat cyberdeck.
Has the Bottlenose had any developments since you debuted it?
Shawn updated some of the code in the SVN, which I still need to go through and bring over to the git repo.
Will you be getting the V2 of the Northstar when it debuts?
How many pets do you have? Will you be getting any more?
I've got my two feather kids and the iguana, and I'm considering another bird someday in the future when I have a better apartment/condo (and thus more room for maybe a cockatoo or African grey).