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The Volume-Driven Life

Imagine how much happier you’d be if you could just adjust the sound

Ben Husmann/Flickr
Illustrations by Brown Bird Designs

Perhaps you’re trying to get some work done, but the guy behind you at the coffee shop won’t shut up. Or maybe sirens rattle your bedroom at night, or the train’s “quiet car” has become a debate parlor. Exposure to excessive noise triggers the nervous system’s fight-or-flight response, releasing hormones that damage sleep quality, raise blood pressure, and trigger episodes of rage. Scientists also believe that thousands of early deaths from heart failure can be linked to excessive noise. So what if you could turn down your ears the same way you control the volume on an iPod? The solution is a surgical implant that replaces a small section of the eighth cranial nerve (the one responsible for hearing) with a resistance modulator that controls the signals that become “sound” in the brain. Using a discreet and stylish external toggle switch implanted in the neck, you’d be able to adjust ear volume at will. It’d be like your own cocoon.