Melbourne: In a unique project, an Australian artist is growing a human ear on his arm and plans to turn it into an internet-connected 'remote listening device'.
Perth-based artist Stelarc, who is a professor at Curtin University, said he first conceived the idea in 1996, but it took another decade to find the medical team willing to make it a reality.
An international medical team inserted a scaffold underneath his skin. Within six months, tissue and blood vessels had developed around the structure.
"The ear is pretty much now a part of my arm, it's fixed to my arm and it has its own blood supply," Stelarc said.
"People's reactions range from bemusement to bewilderment to curiosity, but you don't really expect people to understand the art component of all of this," Stelarc said.
He now plans to make the ear more three-dimensional ? lifting it up off the arm and growing an ear lobe from his stem cells.
From there, a miniature microphone that can wirelessly connect to the internet will be inserted.
"This ear is not for me, I've got two good ears to hear with. This ear is a remote listening device for people in other places," he told 'ABC News'.
"They'll be able to follow a conversation or hear the sounds of a concert, wherever I am, wherever you are. People will be able to track, through a GPS as well, where the ear is," he said.
Stelarc, who is the head of the Alternate Anatomies Laboratory at Curtin University, said the project was a sign of things to come.
"Increasingly now, people are becoming internet portals of experience...Imagine if I could hear with the ears of someone in New York, imagine if I at the same time could see with the eyes of someone in London," he said.
The microphone has already been tested successfully, but it had to be taken out because of an infection.