Tiny under-skin implants replace keys, business info, medical data and eventually a lot more
Members of the so-called body hacker movement have been implanting RFID chips under their skin, programming them to perform various tasks.
Patrick Paumen doesn't have to worry about forgetting his keys and being locked out of his apartment. That is because he doesn't need a key anymore—he simply unlocks the door with a wave of his hand. The 32-year-old IT expert from the Dutch city of Heerlen is one of a growing number of people with electronic implants under their skin, mostly to use as keys or for identification.
Mr. Paumen has several such implants, or tags, embedded in the fatty tissue of his hands and his lower arm. He uses separate tags to unlock not only his apartment door, but also his office and the gate to a secure parking lot at work. Another stores information he would otherwise put on a business card—name and contact details—and yet another holds similar information for nonbusiness encounters.
The implants can be activated and scanned by readers that use radio frequency identification technology, or RFID. Those include ordinary smartphones and readers already installed in office buildings to allow entrance with a common ID card.
Mr. Paumen says the tiny devices simplify his life. When nearing the secure office parking lot, he says, "I just roll down the window, stick my arm out and let the reader at the gates scan the implant, which is just below my little finger. I don't have to worry about losing my access card."
Except board application, the other advantage of RFID is passive characteristic which enable it work without batteries. It’ll get the power viaelectromagneticinduction when contact with RFID reader, then transfer data.
Faread Technology designs the tag size as a grain of rice to promote this idea. It only takes a few seconds to inject the small glass cylinder containing a tag, the size of a grain of rice, under the skin. It can be done by anyone, but proponents say it is best done by a trained person with sterilized equipment to lower the risk of infection.
Once a tag is implanted, there can be an adjustment period: "They can move a little bit depending on skin type and activities," says Quentin Inglis, owner of the Kalima Emporium, a tattoo and piercing studio in Worthing, England, who has implanted tags for several customers. Mr. Inglis keeps his business card on an implanted tag. "I do a lot of climbing, so mine moved around a bit until it found a position it was happiest with," he says.
Electronic RFID tags that go under the skin are being used to store personal information and give users access to secure areas.
Some people list emergency contacts on an implanted tag. And others see potential for the use of the tags in medicine, though one big challenge needs to be addressed for those visions to become reality: Medical personnel or anyone else trying to help someone in a medical or emergency situation will need to have some way to know that the person they're trying to help has potentially lifesaving information available under his or her skin.
It also can help the people who suffer from epilepsy often wear pendants that identify them as having epilepsy and sometimes provide emergency contacts and some basic information on how to help a person having a seizure. But the pendant can be lost or forgotten—a tag cannot. Paramedics and other first responders could be trained to check for tags, he says, and perhaps people with epilepsy could have a small tattoo or some other marker to help other people find the tag. Another idea for medical use: "In hospitals, you could have a small thing implanted to make sure this is the right patient or person for this operation, to reduce the number of errors there are in medical operations," Dr. Warwick says.
The tags also can be used to access medical records. Information stored on a tag can easily be updated with the tag remaining in place.
Ethical issues Skeptics point to ethical concerns that will have to be addressed before tag implants become more common. While there may be no issue with implanting a tag under the skin of consenting adults, things could become tricky if a person doesn't want it or isn't in control of the tag's content.
For instance, the use of a tag "is ethically straightforward and even useful" for people who can't grip a key because of extreme arthritis or the loss of a hand, But while tags also could be used by people with dementia to carry identifying information and to ensure that they would never lose their keys, it would be "troubling" in such cases because the patient may not be able to give proper consent to the procedure.
Privacy concerns will also have to be addressed before tag implants can reach their full potential. Although people promoting them say the implants currently on sale can only be picked up by readers in very close range, some people worry that strangers could still tap their personal information without their knowledge or consent.
As a new life-style, there is no comprehensive data on how many people have RFID implants in their bodies, retailers estimate the total is 30,000 to 50,000 people globally. But RFID implants under livestock’s skin are very popular, Faread Technology devoted to popularize RFID chip implantation under animal’s skin for the identification, including some fields like high-end farms, association of protecting rare species of animal, etc. So, if human enjoy the treatment of livestock which personal information injected into bodies’, which is a good thing or bad thing?