Friday, May 29, 2009

Universal Serial Bus

I have strange dreams sometimes. And sometimes I even remember them, at least long enough to retell. In those cases, I like to relive the dream as often as I can, so I won't forget it. A sad (?) side-effect of this procedure is that the dream gets twisted - parts that are forgotten need to be filled in with new inventions, in an attempt to keep the dream cohesive.

On my previous blog, I wrote about a couple of dreams of that sort. Here is another, which I just dreamed last night:

I wake up on a gurney, rolling through a hospital. BONK squeak squeak BONK squeak squeak squeak BONK squeak squeak squeak... rolling through dimly lit hallways, bashing through the double doors. People on both sides, whooshing by in a blur - passing too quickly to distinguish doctor from patient; friend from foe - I was dying.

Catastrophic heart failure. There are no transplants available; the Netherlands has focused more on medical technology than on altruistic behavior like organ donation. There is only one solution - an artificial heart.

The gurney slows to a stop. The walls close in. Silvery metallic - an elevator? Lurch in the stomach - is it the medication, or are we descending? Down, down, down, down, down, down, down down down we go...


Operating room lights, bright and blurry filling my view. Greenish-blue shapes of surgeons moving through the haze. What's going on? Oh yea, the surgery - confusion of the anesthesia, fades back to oblivion.

At this point of the dream it switches from the first-person crazy-view to a documentary television show. It also stops making sense.

After being told about his condition, the patient decides to attempt an experimental procedure. Since the surgeons would already open up the chest cavity for an extremely invasive operation, they might as well take the opportunity to install a device.

The device consists of a high-fidelity patch of electrodes connected to a serial bus. The bus connects to a control circuit on the artificial heart, allowing the brain stem and hypothalamus to adjust the heart rate and diastolic pressure naturally. This small but significant signal doesn't come close to saturating the pipe, though, so the project is brought a step further: a large data-port is installed in the front of the patient's chest.

The data-port enables electronic devices to read signals from the nerves in the spinal chord, enabling everything from cybernetic powered exoskeletons to computer interfaces, GPS and GSM devices to access the peripheral nervous system. The patch also channels received signals into the nervous system, allowing these same devices to provide data for access by the central nervous system. After a short learning process, the patient should be able to fuse seamlessly with the internet and any device connected, directly or indirectly, to the data port.

At this point I realize I'm actually half-awake and thinking more about the possibilities of the technology than the dreaming about the experience of having it, which was a little sad. At any rate, an interesting night, indeed!

Like my momma said to me: "Don't listen to them baby... They just some hatin' ass bitches... that's all..."


  1. Why did the data-port look like Darth Vader's chest-of-buttons in my mind's eye?

    'cause seriously, an array of USB ports would be much more practical. You could even recharge the heart's battery that way!

    OTOH, why not use bluetooth for the interface and an induction coil for power? Open wounds on your chest would suck megaballs.

  2. Yeah it didn't make much sense...