When identification microchips were implanted in members of the Jacobs family on the Today show last May, George Orwell's surveillance society seemed to be another step closer. But confusion over the chip's medical status and even safety, among other stumbling blocks, has left many wondering if the era of the embedded human ID really is at hand.
For several months, Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) in Palm Beach, Fla., has been offering an integrated chip, called the VeriChip, that is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected beneath the dermal layers. Operating just like those in millions of pets, the chip returns a radio-frequency signal from a wand passed over it. The chip can serve as basic identification or possibly link to a database containing the user's medical records. ADS is also planning a chip with broadcasting capabilities--a kind of human "lojack" system that could signal the bearer's GPS coordinates, perhaps serving as a victim beacon in a kidnapping.
This article was originally published with the title Getting under Your Skin.