He can lift beer bottle caps, coins or nails with his fingers. He can even unlock his car, computer, smartphone, office, enter his home, or play a YouTube video by scanning his arm.
Patrick Baumen, aka Vicarius, Dutchman clashes in Heerlen, a former mining town in the southern Netherlands, landlocked between Belgium and Germany. In this city of about 90,000 inhabitants, far from the hustle and bustle of greater Amsterdam, a man introduces himself as a “cyborg”. To designate people like him, we sometimes say “biohacker,” a term that combines many things, even transhumanism, without being more precise. In civilian life, he works as a security officer or sometimes as a system administrator.
We necessarily notice him less than a follower of piercings or tattoos, but Patrick is also an “extreme” body modification fanatic. Under his skin are more than 30 magnets and implanted with an electronic chip or LED. His adventure began in 2010 when he attended a conference in Germany. “I ordered a magnet to be implanted, and I asked Saqib to implant it, but he said no.Laughs. So, I did it myself.” With his knife he makes an incision in the upper part of his hand and fixes a magnet there, which today forms a very conspicuous bump.
Patrick Bomin does not appear to have been affected by this action. He explains that it is not particularly harmful and that there is no danger to health, because the fleas are covered with a substance bioproof (glass, titanium). He is not even amazed when he injects Implant 35 into his arm in our presence, piercing his skin with a very large syringe to insert a 1mm diameter chip.
“You need people to experiment”explains Patrick, who likes the idea of being a pioneer biohacking, to appear as a slightly unique person. Today, it is estimated that around 10,000 people are fitted with a body transplant worldwide. This practice is particularly prevalent in Northern Europe, particularly in Sweden, where this technology is used to open car doors, buy coffee, or check entry to a gym.
Subcutaneous RFID chip injection | © The Digital
The first skin chip of this kind dates back to 1998. Then a British scientist, Kevin Warik, implanted an RFID transmitter into his left arm. Another Primo Cyborg, Hope Graafstra, seems to have inspired Patrick even more. In 2013, he created the company Dangerous Things, of which the latter became one of the ambassadors. On this site, he earned most of his chips, for several tens or hundreds of dollars. Each package comes with injection and disinfection equipment, and of course some giveaways.
However, the Dutchman’s pivot has nothing to do with dangerous things. Patrick considers himself the first to implant a contactless payment device under the skin. After checking with his bank, he asked for a SIM-sized chip, and it was protected with a substance bioproof He placed it in his hand at the expense of a beautiful scar. The problem: After three years and like any bank card, said chip expired and Patrick had to slay again to replace it and pay for his consumption while leaving his credit card at home.
This chip is what earned him his best tales. “The cashiers sometimes ask me how to pay and call their colleagues to show them.”He enjoys big gestures.
“If you want to stalk me, stalk my smartphone”
Is it possible to hack Patrick Baumen? According to him, the task will be complicated. You must first know that he has implants, where they are located, their functions, read frequency, as well as the protocol used. “If you want to stalk me, stalk my smartphone”he adds. The Dutchman can regularly reprogram his implants and adjust the data without resorting to a scalpel, using only his smartphone or a specialized reader.
Patrick also explains his philosophy regarding personal data. He claims, for example, that he does not use technologies like Face ID or his fingerprints to log into his devices or apps. If he could use his implants, he would. Otherwise, a passcode or password manager will do.
Another question we ask him: Does he pass checks at the airport without worry? With his metal detector, he proves to us alive that nothing rings while searching and claims he has no problem with the more advanced scanners found at the border.
ACKspace, the place for socialization and experiences
In Heerlen, Patrick co-founded ACKspace at the end of 2010. “We have a total of 17 participants and it is a place where we come together to share our passion and knowledge”, He says. This place is prominently dedicated to tech sports a small side Weird things From the 1980s and is full of electronic culture gadgets and references, as well as materials for DIY. There are 3D printers, a soldering station, a funny minibar or even a room with a sofa and game consoles. And on this subject, Patrick admits that he is a fanDoctrine killer and conjures breakAnd matrix where Robocop When it comes to drawing on his inspirations to understand his approach.
His taste for technology doesn’t stop at the body. On his (Citroën) Patrick modified the dashboard and installed a set of lights. When the hacking space is open – and someone is there – a green light shines through the vehicle. Otherwise, it is a red light. In a parking lot, Patrick asks us if we want to see something funny: thanks to a small electronic device, he remotely opens the cargo cover of a Tesla that is not his …
Patrick is not a superhero
When we talk about work as intense as that of Neuralink, the company co-founded by Elon Musk that aims to develop brain implants that are supposed to enhance human performance, Patrick judges initiative. “interesting”. Regarding the implant he was dreaming about, he thought for a few moments before answering: “An implant to get health data about my body, like glucose control.” The healthcare chip market is still nascent and is estimated to reach $6 million just by 2027.
Patrick doesn’t believe in democratizing implants either. According to him, like piercings or tattoos, there are many barriers to their universality, starting with culture or religion, but also the relationship to the body more simply. Moreover, he does not have the vocation to impress his comrades and does not do so “Not from door to door like religious people”. As for the law, it allows citizens to do whatever they want with their bodies. Patrick sums it up like this: “My body, my choice, my implants.”
Far from the clichés about his art, Patrick sees more of himself Soft cyborg Who like Iron Man in the making. “What I want is to share real information about this practice, not fake news.”All of this, he explains, also evokes the emerging conspiracy aspect around implants and microchips, which have become particularly virulent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking of tech and superhero references, we’re wondering about the origin of his nickname, Vicarius. Is it a feature of cyber culture? Patrick clicks on Spotify and turns up the volume on his car radio: “No, it’s a song by Tool, a progressive metal band. I was looking for a pseudonym for my online activities and thought about it.”