25 August 2013

Body hacker uses subdermal RFID hand implant as wireless storage

In modern times, a portable storage device isn’t ever far from our possession. Either we can use the storage on our phones or tablets, or we keep a small flash drive on a keychain. Accessing the data, however, may not be convenient in a given situation. Making the storage and access of data more convenient, artist Anthony Antonellis implanted an RFID chip into his hand that can store data which can be wirelessly accessed by a smartphone.

Now, Antonellis takes a similar route to further simplifying something that is already simple. By implanting an RFID chip the size of a grain of sand into his hand, he can access data stored on the chip. The chip, as you may have guessed, barely holds data — only about 1KB to 2KB — but the concept has been proven, and Antonellis has successfully accessed and displayed an animated GIF on his phone that is stored on the implant.

The RFID chip was protected in a glass casing before it was injected into the skin, and its antenna has a range of about one to two centimeters, so Antonellis has to touch his phone to the specific part of his hand in order to access the stored data.

The RFID chip can transfer data both ways of course, so Antonellis isn’t stuck with that very tiny animated GIF, and can swap out 1KB files as he pleases. Granted, a static 1KB file must be low on quality and dimensions to begin with, and an animated GIF has to contain multiple frames, which obviously increases the file size. The proof of concept GIF consists of 10 frames, using 6 colors in a wave formation, as seen below.

Antonellis views the implant as a net.art tattoo, something for which QR codes are commonly used. Instead of a visible QR code, though, the RFID chip allows for the art to be changed more easily.

While storing files on your phone or a USB flash drive not only provides a much larger amount of storage, but avoids having to stab your hand, a wireless storage device you can never forget is certainly convenient. While you could also implant a USB drive into your hand if you wanted to (or three if you wanted to become some kind of flash drive version of Wolverine), pin-pricking a storage device the size of a grain of sand into your hand would be less uncomfortable. Though chips that small don’t yet have a significant storage capacity, the convenience of a subdermal wireless hard drive does sound appealing.

Now read: Nucleus 6 bionic ear: A future of cyborgs with intelligent hearing draws closer


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