Apple Watch and the skin as interface; success likely due to brain plasticity

“Recently, to much fanfare, Apple launched a watch,” Alistair Croll writes for Radar. “One of the more positive reviews came from tech columnist Farhad Manjoo. In it, he argued that we’ll eventually give in to wearables for a variety of reasons.”

“Manjoo uses the term ‘on-body messaging’ to describe the variety of specific vibrations the watch emits, and how quickly he came to accept them as second nature,” Croll writes. “The success of Apple’s watch, and of wearables in general, may be due to this brain plasticity.”

“There are 13 pairs of nerves (counting the recently discovered terminal nerve) going into my brain right now. If I don’t want to overload my optic nerve, or to clutter up patches of my skin, or make any other of the 13 nerves do double duty, is it time for an implant? The notion of adding new, fundamental senses is fraught with peril and ethics,” Croll writes. “Perhaps I should I be wary of giving control of my nervous systems to technology, and just be happy repurposing patches of my skin, upgrading my input bandwidth the way I once upgraded a modem. If so, then maybe that’s why the Apple Watch will catch on. But it’s just a baby step toward physical augmentation.

“When we create not only new senses, but also new brain areas for motor control, we’ll become genuinely new beings,” Croll writes. “And that will redefine consciousness and completely alter the species.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple Watch wearers, we are all cyborgs now. Embrace your destiny, for evolution knows no bounds!

Related article:
The Apple Watch and our cyborg destiny – May 11, 2015


  1. I’m comfortable with input devices that provide information to me . . . . the day there is a direct — and perhaps much less filtered — link from our minds to an interconnected digital network is when we’ve gone too far. For as much as communication is part of the core of who we are, so is the freedom of independent consciousness that allows us to sort through the input information and decide what and how we share the ideas that spur from those experiences. Wearing a watch does not make me a cyborg, it enhances my existing humanity. When we decide to replace that which makes us human I don’t know if words like “progress” apply. With a wife, four kids and a busy career I don’t know what lonely feels like — but the quiet of my own mind is a refuge that even the loves of my life aren’t allowed to visit. If the future in any way diminishes that, this techie wants out!

  2. The definition of cyborg or cybernetic organism that I am familiar is a being with both organic biomechatronic parts. The definition of a cyborg usually connotes a synthesis of biological with electronic.

    I can see someone with an artificial heart or an artificial leg being considered a cybernetic organism, certainly not someone wearing an watch, or pressing their fingers on a keyboard or running them across a track pad. Certainly these latter devices offer sensory input to an organism but are not an intimate nor permanent physiological link.

    Using the word cyborg to relate to watchers will make for good press and bandwagon jumping for the masses but in my opinion but it’s still a far cry from what Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline intended. On the bright side I haven’t read any confirmation about the mainstream media calling the watch a luxwearable and that’s certainly a relief as the moron(s) who conceived of the term haven’t even had the simple demonstration of defining it. I mean that’s really stupid, but hey it’s par for the course.

  3. As a real neuroscientist, I can say that the author’s reasoning is flawed, while his conclusions may not be. We are never going to “create new senses or “new brain areas of motor control.” The brain is already multipurpose. Nerves are merely one of the I/O devices to it. There is more constant molecular communication that is slower changing and farther reaching than the nervous system. We use the sensory input we have to inform the brain and change it. We have already changed because of mechanical and silicon based input from the wheel to Mach 3 aircraft and everything in between, to the side and imagined. The computer in your home, on your lap, in your pocket and on your wrist extends the sensory world and world of information and the brain learns. When it learns it changes We become inured to these changes, but they are coming high, hard and fast. Ultimately to keep up the drive for change we will allow anything, including implants and machine based immortality, if developing AI doesn’t get sick of us first. The brain changes wildly within it’s limits, but it has limits.

  4. all Google gets when they read this is “Wow, maybe we can pump advertising straight to the brain especially the parts controlling impulse purchasing…. shit.. eventually we can make them DREAM our ad products ! 24 hr ads !! ….. it’s breakthrough for mankind !!! “

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