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Tracking/information Devices


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I've heard talk (for awhile now) about testing RFID/GPS like devices that would go inside human bodies. Seems like this could be a good idea and a terrible idea. I don't know if anyone has read much about this or heard of it. I don't think it'll happen for many generations. I just wonder if it'll help or hinder us? Seems like it could be an invasion of privacy but it could also save lives. Thoughts?

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Implanting Radio Frequency ID (RFID) devices in bodies – commonly known as “chipping” – is available at a reasonable price now.


It’s mostly used with pets – veterinaries and animal shelters have devices that allow them to read the implanted chips, getting an ID number that can be entered on a webpage (for example, petmaxx.com) to get information that allows them to contact the pet’s owner by phone or email. The advantage of this over collar-attached tags is that, while collars can be lost, it’s practically impossible for an implanted chip to be.


Essentially the same chips can be implanted in humans that, because they are too young or mentally impaired, are, like pets, unable to identify themselves. The advantage of this over other ID methods, such as fingerprints and photos is questionable. These older techniques work better with humans than most pet species, because, unlike dogs and cats, we have distinct finger prints and faces that are easy to image and search for using computers. Implanted chips in humans remains very rare, in large because of concerns that the chips would cause cancer lead to financial problem for the major company selling them, VeriChip. Despite gaining US FDA approval for human-implanted chips in 2002, the company (know called VerTeQ) discontinued the product in 2010, because they were losing, not making, money from it.


Implanting Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers or other kinds of location-tracking devices in humans or non-human animals appears to me unlikely to be practically feasible for at least another 5 years, and poses substantial technical challenges. The 2 main challenge involved in implanting a GPS receiver is that its antenna must be close enough to the surface to get a strong satellite signal, and it must have electric power. GPS devices, including the ability to reach the internet via cellphone radio and charge themselves from sunlight, while not as small as implantable RFID chips – they’re about the size of a US $0.01 to 0.25 coin, vs. about the size of a grain of rice – are small enough, but not at present implantable.


Ain't technology grand? :)


Sources: wikipedia articles Microchip implant (animal) and Microchip implant (human); “Retrievor” commercial device Gizmag article.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Most really don't even need an implant for this. Typical smartphones have GPS and RFID built into them, so tracking isn't something that isn't all that scary in the whole "implant" scheme.

I know Google's ATAP is working on a chip that works as an identifier for paying, gaining access to secure areas, and a few other nifty things.

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