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Focus: RFID and Automated Identification and Data Collection (AIDC)

Feature Article from Our RFID and AIDC Subject Area - See All


From SCDigest's OnTarget e-Magazine

- Feb. 23, 2015 -


RFID and AIDC News: Here it Comes - Office Complex in Sweden Offers Option of Embedded RFID for Workers to Automate Access, Buy Lunch


Many have Concerns, but Group in Country Seeks 100 Participants to Test and Study the Technology; Turning off Your Key Fob if You are Behind on Car Payment?


SCDigest Editorial Staff

As bar coding started taking off in the early 1990s, some out there warned of a coming nightmare in which humans would have bar code identifiers printed on their foreheads. It was not uncommon to come out of certain trades shows to find fliers place under windshield wipers warning about this as a looming totalitarian movement - or as "the mark of the devil."

More recently, a techno-geek named Amal Graafstra took the plunge and had RFID chips implanted in both of his hands - enabling him to control much of how his home operates with a wave of his enhanced arms.

SCDigest Says:


Whether it's an embedded tag or a chip in say a key fob, where this could go bears some consideration.

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"When I open my front door, I don't reach for a key. When I log into my computer, I don't touch my keyboard. When I start my motorcycle, again, no key needed. Instead, I just wave my hand and I'm in business," Graafstra wrote in an article for IEEE's Spectrum magazine in 2010.

SCDigest asked at the time: Are Graafstra's experiments idle fun, or leading indicator of coming big brother era? (See Are RFID Tagged Humans Closer than we Think?)

Well, now news this week that some of the business tenants of a Swedish office complex are having RFID chips implanted in their hands, enabling access through security doors, as well as services such as copy machines, all without PIN codes or swipe cards.

The 400 employees working at Epicenter can even soon pay for lunch using their implants - just as they would with the swipe of a credit card - if they go through with the procedure, which of course is voluntary.

"We already interact with technology all the time," Hannes Sjoblad, who is in charge of implanting the chips and has an implant containing his business card details, told the International Business Times. "Today it's a bit messy: we need pin codes and passwords. Wouldn't it be easy to just touch with your hand? That's really intuitive."

Interestingly, Sjoblad says part of his interest is understanding the technology to be able to counter "big brother" type programs using RFID by governments and others.

"We want to be able to understand this technology before big corporates and big government come to us and say everyone should get chipped - the tax authority chip, the Google or Facebook chip," he says.

As shown in the picture below, the passive tags are about the size of maybe a couple of grains of rice, and as with Graafstra are generally implanted in the fleshy area between the thumb and index finger.



Source: Computer World

(RFID and AIDC Story Continued Below)




Sjoblad is bullish on the many possibilities such human tagging could create.

"I believe we have just started discovering the things we can do with this. There is huge potential for life-logging. With the fitness-tracking wearables at the moment, you have to type in what you are eating or where you are going," he said. "Instead of typing data into my phone, when I put it down and tap it with my implant it will know I am going to bed."

He adds: "Imagine sensors around a gym that recognizes, for instance, who is holding a dumbbell via the tag in your hand. There is an ongoing explosion in the Internet of Things. The sensors will be around for me to be able to register my activity in relation to them."

Sjoblad says only a relatively small number of the office workers at the Epicenter have gone ahead with the chip implants - but that interest seems to be growing. He is part of a group called Bionyfiken, which has a goal to create a user community of at least 100 people with NFC implants who experiment with and help develop possible uses.

And Sjoblad notes there are many other potential applications - such as employee location tracking, even if that starts to seem very big brotherish to us.

"I fundamentally believe that smart implants are a technology of the future," Sjoblad says.

Whether it's an embedded tag or a chip in say a key fob, where this could go bears some consideration. For example, it would be relatively easy for a system to be developed where a bank could in effect turn off a chip in a fob needed to start a car if the owner was behind in his or her car payments. (The disablement would actually probably happen on the car side, not the fob.)

In addition, there has been much news about the ease with which data from RFID-enabled credit cards can be obtained through surreptitious reading of those cards by a simple handheld device.

The same would be true for implanted chips, meaning a bad guy might be able to read the chip in your hand, duplicate the codes, and make copies at your expense at the Epicenter - or maybe open your front door with ease.

John Kindervag, a principal security and privacy analyst at Forrester Research, said RFID implants are simply "scary" and pose a major threat to privacy and security.

What do you think about implanted RFID chips - cool new technology or setting the stage for big brother?Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


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