How Would You Like an RFID Microchip Implanted in Your Thumb?

This whole radio-frequency identification thing is really starting to get under my skin.

Well, not my skin, exactly. But under plenty of other peoples’ skin.

Radio-frequency identification is better known as RFID. It uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track tags that are attached to objects.

Those tags have info in them that are electronically stored. This is similar to a bar code, but different. Bar codes have to be within the line of sight of an electronic reader. RFID can be embedded within a tracked object.

Unlock Doors Without a Key

Back in the day, we left all our technology at home when we went out. Like our phone, stereo, TV and, if we had one, our computer.

These days, we carry phones in our pockets and smart watches on our wrists. We can look at the weather, read a news story or book, contact someone, or even stream a movie. All while we’re out and about.

And if technology bigwigs such as Biohax International have their way, we’ll be able to do a lot more with microchips implanted in our thumbs.

Data within these chips allow people to unlock home and office doors, for example. They can also be used to store personal info including health-related data.

Is This a 1984 Scenario?

Now, none of us seems to have much of a problem when RFID is embedded in a car as it’s moving along an assembly line.

Or in a package so it can be tracked within a warehouse. Or even inside our pets in to help find them when they’re lost.

But there’s something about embedding an RFID chip under one’s skin that seems very Big Brother-ish.

It feels very invasive – literally and figuratively. But maybe the pros outweigh the cons. Let’s take a closer look and try to figure it out.

Swedes Lining up for Chips

Folks in Sweden certainly don’t seem to have a problem with implanted RFID chips. Thousands of people there are getting RFID microchips under their skin, according to National Public Radio.

The country’s main chipping firm says they can’t keep up with the number of requests they’re getting.

The procedure requires a syringe such as what is used to give vaccinations. It is about $180.

The owner says he’s now developing training materials. That’s so Swedish doctors and nurses can perform the implants while he and his staff focus on the product itself.

Safe and Difficult to Hack

Here’s how it works. The chip is about the size of a grain of rice. And is inserted into the skin in the user’s thumb.

The chips don’t have an energy source. They are passive. When someone taps their thumb against a reader, the chip sends an ID that tells the reader which chip it is.

Biohax officials say the chips are perfectly safe and are difficult to hack.

They say that having an implanted chip will allow people to speed up their lives. And avoid carrying a bunch of different cards and other forms of ID.

Exchanging Data With a Touch

“Having different cards and tokens verifying your identity to a bunch of different systems just doesn’t make sense,” said Jowan Osterlund. He founded Biohax International in 2013.

“Using a chip means that the hyper-connected surroundings that you live in every day can be streamlined.”

One of the uses for an implanted microchip is exchanging data. If you touch someone’s smartphone with your chip, you can transfer a social media profile, for example, to that person’s phone.

Implanted microchips are also another step toward becoming a cashless society. In tech-savvy Sweden, the percentage of cash transactions has dropped from 40 in 2010 to 15 today.

Privacy Is the Concern

So far, no one has expressed a serious health-related problem about these microchips.

But as you can imagine, some people are concerned about privacy. Ben Libberton is a British scientist based in southern Sweden. Here’s what he says.

“What is happening now is relatively safe,” he said. “But if it’s used everywhere, if every time you want to do something and instead of using a card you use your chip, it could be very, very easy to let go of (personal) info.

“When more health-related info starts being used and incorporated into the chip and being transmitted, that could create an extra layer of privacy that we really need to look at and take care of before it’s widely used.”

What About You?

Here’s a question for you. If you believed that an RFID chip implanted in your thumb was perfectly safe and would make life easier for you, would you do it?

Or would you be too concerned about the possibility of having your personal data stolen?

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you.


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