Around 10,000 people worldwide are using microchip technology in their bodies, according to a recent article in the Telegraph newspaper. The chips use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and are similar to the kind of radios that veterinarians embed in pets for tracking.
I went in search of where to get one, and found them surprisingly available.
It was a Swedish office complex that first caught media attention on this subject in January, 2015.
A high-tech rental space there offers tenants RFID chips for implanting in hands. The idea is that implanted chips can then be used to open office doors and operate photocopiers and so on.
One of the tenants, Felicio de Costa says he simply uses his hand to open doors where once he would have used a card, the BBC wrote at the time.
The chip de Costa had implanted, and which was supervised by the presumably knowledgeable Swedish Biohacking Group, was about the size of a grain of rice.
Well, things might be about to escalate. The Telegraph is reporting that a 15-year old British teenager was able to order a self-installation kit easily off the Internet, and insert one of the chips in his hand so he could control his Android device.
He performed the operation himself with the kit-included syringe. He uses the chip to unlock and play music on his phone, he says. Many smartphones can read RFID chips.
The kid says he really likes it. "Now I can set it up to go to Bluetooth device, to pair with my Bluetooth speaker," he said to the newspaper.
So are we set for an explosion of in-hand chipping? They’re under a hundred bucks.
And probably more to the point for us is just who gets to administer all this? Is building security and photocopier billing via embedded chip an IT job?
What you get
Dangerous Things is the supplier of the kits used. Its website tag line states: ‘Custom gadgetry for the discerning hacker.’
Various bits of kit are available from it, but the package that caught my eye was the xNTi.
Disclaimer alert: I didn’t buy it, I’m squeamish.
The $99 kit it contains an NFC Type 2 compliant tag encased in a 2x12mm bio-compatible glass casing. The chip and case is preloaded into a sterile injection assembly.
You also get various skin-prep and wound-care items thrown in, including a bandage.
“The ideal location for installation is the webbing between thumb and index finger,” double-implantee Amal Graafstra, founder of Dangerous Things, says on his website.
Dangerous Things recommends getting professionals, such as its listed body piercing partners, to help with the actual install.
So that bit won’t be down to IT.
Compatible apps are limited because Dangerous Things’ chip has unusually strong password protection. So, you need to use its proprietary Android app rather than common RFID readers.
And the parents?
"We're still not entirely certain about it," the implanted teenager’s mother said when interviewed by the newspaper. The teenager had ordered the kit without telling his parents.
For us? Getting rid of it when changing jobs? A visit to the vet, possibly?
“A family doctor familiar with basic in-room surgery can easily remove the tag using a small scalpel cut,” Graafstra says.
So, IT won’t be asked to do it.
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