I’m currently working on a project that uses mobile phone technology as an access control credential to open doors. With the ownership of mobile phones surpassing all other gadgets as the most popular piece of tech in today’s society, it’s exciting to see the new and innovative ways we can use them in our sector.
However, there is another emerging trend that guarantees that your access control credentials are with you, wherever you go. Bio-hacking is where an RFID chip is implanted in your body, typically is the fleshy area between your thumb and first finger. The RFID chip is encased in a small ceramic glass cylinder, typically the size of an uncooked grain of rice and then using a special syringe, the RFID chip is implanted below the skin. The chip stores personal security information which can be transmitted over short distances to specific receivers. The purpose of this is to replace items such as keys, key fobs, business cards, and other similar items by storing the credential data in the microchip.
The chip contains a unique serial number that can be read by a door reader in order to gain access. Simply present your hand to the reader, and if you have permission, the door will open much like any other authentication method. The RFID chip also creates convenience as it can carry multiple access rights meaning you do not need a separate chip for various scenarios.
We already use RFID chips for many of our daily activities and are most commonly found in the contactless cards that we use to pay for items in shops, for public transport and to grant access to buildings. The problem with these cards is their tendency to get lost or stolen, whereas an implanted RFID chip is impossible to lose or steal in this respect. Another potential benefit is a chip can be used to quickly gain access to your medical history and is always ‘to hand’, literally.
There is even a marketing company in Belgium that is offering an RFID chip implant to their staff instead of the typical plastic access card, which allows their staff to open doors, log onto their computer and even buy food at the cafeteria.
It is estimated that there are currently 10,000 people globally with an RFID chip implant and it seems to be growing trend as individuals continue to seek the added convenience.
There are concerns about the chip being used to track individuals, however, it is worth remembering that anyone who carries a smart device sends far more information about their movements and daily behaviour to companies like Google and Apple than an RFID implant ever could (although you can turn off a mobile phone).
Another reservation about using this technology is hygiene. If everybody needs to present their hand on a reader, then there is an increased chance of spreading bacteria. We also don’t know what effect microchips will have on the body in the long-term nor on widespread chipping within society.
Although I am excited about a microchip future and can see many potential uses, I intend to wait and see before trying this.