I am absolutely fascinated with technology, the benefits, the drawbacks as well what the future may hold. My career is built around investigating the way that technology shapes us and how we shape technology. The impact that technology in all of its forms has had on us as individuals, as a society and really what it means to be a healthy, positive, human being.
So it was only ever a matter of time before I became interested in our ability to transform our bodies to form a tighter connection to that same technology. The creation of the bio-implant with both NFC as well as RFID was a turning point for me, finally a relatively safe product that I could easily tinker and experiment with. At the time though it was relegated to very experimental DIY methods, so purchasing the implant yourself and either getting a friend to do it (recommended) or doing-it-yourself (definitely not a good way to go). To see an early how-to guide go here. Compounding this was the fact that the initial implants were very close in nature to the ones that are implanted in pets. That meant that removal required surgery, as the implant was essentially coated in a bio-bond. With the release of the x-series transponders from Dangerous Things these problems were solved. They quickly became one of the most popular implants due to the ability to be easily removed as well as easily installed via a needle insertion system included with the implant.
Due to the expanded popularity a body modification specialist started offering implants in Sydney. The aptly named Joeltron working out of Stone Heart on William St in Sydney. One of the key reasons why I chose to finally pull the trigger was the fact that there was an installer who worked in an aseptic environment, this meant that risk of contamination and therefore infection was minimised. Joeltron was incredibly friendly, professional and I would recommend him for any sort of body modification you would like to get.
What exactly did I get? The technical name is xNT NFC Tag [NTAG216]. This uses the NFC protocol just like your phone (Majority of Android ones, as well as the newer iPhones). It is sold by Dangerous Things at this link. Considering the price it would cost for me to purchase it myself, going with Joeltron was a no brainer.
So $200, and 10 minutes I walk out looking like this...
To those with a morbid curiosity I was surprised how much force it took to puncture the skin but the process wasn't anymore painful then a big needle. A bit of blood but really nothing serious. As you can see in the image below the entry site is quite small. The pain is quite manageable and didn't require any pain management.
It only took about a week for the entry site to completely heal with absolutely no discomfort at all. Unless the implant is being touched or moved, it cannot be felt.
It has been around 10 months since I had the transponder implanted, and so far have experienced very little in negative side effects. The only time I ever notice it is when I clamp it in something. It is unique pain, like something is clamping internally. I have hit it a couple of times with varying degrees of force and it is still completely intact.
None so far, essentially out of the woods in terms of contamination and infection. I haven't run into any major negatives. I have gone through numerous airport detectors while travelling internationally and none have detected the chip. I'll report back if I run into any.
What's it used for?
That's a complex question. Really your imagination is the limit. Currently I have my linkedin profile on there, as well as using it to securely login to my computer at home with an associated NFC reader attachment. I also have it integrated with home smart system so that when I get home I can scan it and trigger lights, music, aircon and really any action that I like.
I will certainly be getting more implants, they are just too useful but unfortunately limited to essentially one action. So if I want to be able to trigger more than 1 or 2 actions, I will need more than 1 implant. The one really big missing element from the implant is a cryptographic or secure element to store encrypted data. At the moment everything is stored in clear text and is readable by anyone with any modern phone. Also the lack of a secure element means that payment abilities would never be supported. On that front though there is some good news, Vivokey have just launched so called "cryptobionic implants" that work with NFC but also contain a secure element.
I will be really intrigued to see what Vivokey can do in the payment space. Even without payment ability the Vivokey Spark ticks a lot of my boxes. Watch this space.
If you want to have a chat about my implant, its effect on my life or how I have integrated please get in touch. I am always happy to talk. Best place is probably Twitter but email is always a reliable option.
Until next time.