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Tech by VICE

These Human RFID Tags Can Connect with Your Phone

An Indiegogo campaign wants to produce NFC compliant implants you inject in your hand.

by Victoria Turk
Nov 6 2013, 6:00pm
An x-ray shows Amal Graafstra's RFID implants. Photo via Indiegogo

For those would-be cyborgs and biohackers who aren’t quite up to the challenge of stitching a rather large box under their skin, biohacking company Dangerous Things may have the solution.

The company, which boasts a range of “custom gadgetry for the discerning hacker,” started an Indiegogo campaign on October 28 to raise money for their latest product, the xNT NFC implant, and have already surpassed its $8000 funding goal. In the project description, they describe the xNT as “the world's first NFC compliant RFID implant,” and say they’ve already successfully beta-tested four prototypes.

It’s fairly un-scary as far as body-hacking goes: The implant consists of a glass ampoule just 2mm by 12mm that can be inserted in the fleshy bit between your thumb and forefinger via injection. The whole thing comes in one sterilised package you can take to “your local body piercer, body modification professional, nurse practitioner, veterinarian, or doctor.” Dangerous Things founder Amal Graafstra also directs interested parties to his DIY implantation guide (though under the list of “what you’ll need” he includes “a good friend with a steady hand”—it’s a two-person job).

Graafstra in 2005, just before he had this RFID tag implanted. Photo via Flickr/Amal Graafstra

Graafstra already has RFID implants in both hands and says in the Indiegogo campaign video that he uses them to get into his house and car, log onto his computer, and share contact details. In a talk at TEDxSFU in Vancouver earlier this year, he explained he was inspired by the RFID chips implanted in pets and actually used the injector from a pet tag kit to insert one of his own implants.

But the xNT tags will be the first NFC (near field communication) compliant tags, meaning they’ll be compatible with devices such as phones and tablets.

Graafstra explains in the Indiegogo brief that the reason he turned to crowdfunding for this latest venture was to meet production costs. Early birds to back the project picked up the implants for $75 a piece, and you can still get them for $99.

It might sound like little more than a cool party trick or a slightly quicker way to unlock your phone right now, but Graafstra’s looking to the future. “Part of the fun of having an implant like this is being able to use it in your daily life,” he writes. “We will continuously find and develop new devices, software, and services you can use your xNT implant with. Whenever possible, these projects will be open sourced, allowing the community to customize systems and build new solutions.”