https://soundcloud.com/evanbyoung/human-microchipping-literal-life-hack-or-dangerous-experiment

As the use of radiofrequency identification (RFID)- the touch technology behind Myki, access cards and payWave- increases, people are beginning to inject it into their own bodies in lieu of using cards.

Its an exciting development, bringing with it the potential for an array of revolutionary interactions between humans and technology.

But are there any downsides? And should we be tampering with nature and biology?

Originally appearing on Episode 17 of Cataclysm: The Catalyst Podcast

Dr. Katina Michael of the University of Wollongong, told OmniChannel Media that “Lloyds Bank revealed recently in a study they made last month in the UK, where they found that 28% of consumers there are willing to make payments using wearable devices, including watches and wristbands in the next ten years,”. Michael is an associate professor at the University of Wollongong’s School of Information Systems and Technology, and the editor in chief of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.
She believes that the trend to apparel based contactless payment could well be taken up with enthusiasm in Australia.
“I think it’s an interesting question,” Michael said. “Australian studies are showing that locals are going contactless, using different kinds of form factors and are using touch and go systems,” Michaels adds: “How much would it stretch the consumer to consider an e-payment system with a similar embedded device either in the cuff or collar.”
Still, Michael explains, there are troublesome issues, like security, that impact the consumer’s confidence with this kind of innovation. Since the technology was never designed for security devices it can be hacked, killed, cloned, and identities stolen and all of this can be done so remotely and discreetly. “What we are doing by introducing yet another form factor is increasing the vector for fraud.”
Michael notes that the Apple watch take up in Australia has been significant and predicts that as much as one-third of the country’s consumers could move to contactless payment. “But I would say the vast majority [of shoppers] would use their common sense and would not invest or expose them to more security risk.”

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Per reports in Nine News, a survey by the credit card company indicated that 25% of Australians surveyed were "slightly interested" in the idea of an implant that would allow them to wave their hands to make a purchase.
The technology has existed for more than a decade, and consists of "a tiny antenna and an identification number, designed to be implanted between the thumb and index finger and detected by a radio frequency identification scanner."
The kicker?
Unfortunately, some past research has linked the chips to cancers in laboratory animals.

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"The products to be released include a wristband, key ring fob and a sticker."
"The most interesting, and one could argue the one with the biggest potential to change, is the sticker. The discrete sticker can be stuck to any item the customer choses. This allows for great amounts of versatility and could potentially be a trend-setting wearable. Instinctively one would consider the smartphone as the most obvious place, but as technology and trends evolve the smartphone could be replaced with any item that the customer ‘can’t leave the house without’.

The price point for the devices appears to be spot on. With the sticker retailing for AUD$30 and with the fob and wristband going for AUD$40 and AUD$50. With these amounts of innovation, it appear Barclays is really looking to disrupt the way their customers are making payments. One thing to note when looking at these innovations is that the big four banks in Australia are not adverse to product releases, so watch this space. "

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Micro-chip implants for making payments and locking doors are the next frontier, but are the pitfalls worth it?

Amal Graafstra holding a large hypodermic needle - the kind needed to inject an RFID chip into your hand. Photo: Supplied

Most tech-heads like to tinker with the inner workings of iPhones or clapped out VCRs.

But Amal Graafstra is different. For the last 10 years, he's been busy hacking into his own body.

His US company Dangerous Things specialises in manufacturing rice grain-sized computer chips designed to be implanted inside the delicate webbing between the thumb and forefinger.

[Dangerous Things founder Amal Graafstra has an RFID chip implanted in each hand.]

Dangerous Things founder Amal Graafstra has an RFID chip implanted in each hand. Photo: Supplied

"Getting an ear piercing is many times more risky," he says, reassuringly.

The bionic-grade glass chips use radio-frequency identification (RFID) to control electronic objects with the swipe of a hand - from the lock on a front door to a car ignition or a personal computer.

It's the same kind of technology used in pet ID tags; by itself, the chip doesn't do much, but when it comes into close contact with a "reader" device, it will transmit information that can then trigger commands.

[The bionic glass chips are about the size of a grain of rice.]

The bionic glass chips are about the size of a grain of rice. Photo: Supplied

The chips only cost $US99 a pop, and while their core market is a handful of dedicated geeks - including a few in Australia - Graafstra says he's increasingly noticing a new kind of customer.

"What is becoming clear is there are more individuals purchasing the chips who have less knowledge about the technology," he says.

"They're into gadgets and they're geeky but they're not necessarily building their own stuff, so the type of customer is expanding slowly."

[NFC chips are increasingly used for instant payment methods, including via smartphones.]

NFC chips are increasingly used for instant payment methods, including via smartphones. Photo: Visa

RFID chips are becoming more common elsewhere, too.

The most well-known standard of RFID is near-field communication (NFC), increasingly used in instant, digital payment transactions, which facilitate credit card payments in a matter of seconds with a simple tap.

Visa this week announced a partnership with the University of Technology Sydney to develop new wearable technologies.

Alongside the announcement came a sensational figure from its own research, purporting to show that a quarter of Australians were "at least slightly interested" in having an NFC chip implanted in their skin for payments.

Visa and UTS have since clarified they were not actively developing implant technologies themselves, but the alarm bells are already ringing.

Social futurist Mal Fletcher, who heads up the London-based think tank 2020 Plus, responded with an Op Ed warning of the potential pitfalls of "subcutaneous spending devices".

These included bodily hacking; mass surveillance from commercial parties collecting our personal data; rising instances of "digital debt" thanks to the abolition of physical money and its tangible value associations; links between implants and cancer; and even the potential to cause early-onset dementia.

Fletcher insists he's not an alarmist - just cautious.

"We have to look at not just where technology is now but the principle behind it," he says.

"I'm not trying to make payments companies into the bogyman," he says. But he points out that it is in their interests to lead the push towards a cashless society, where ease of transactions and detachment from money encourage impulse spending - and everyone's spending habits are dutifully logged.

Graafstra counters that chip implants are not too far removed from where we are today, where day-to-day living depends on the binary transactions of bank cards, swipe cards and serial numbers - all traceable back to our ID.

"We're already in a position where we have no real control over our digital assets," he says.

At least chip implants can eliminate the stress of being mugged - or can they?

The threat of hacking RFID chips is real, says Linus Information Security Solutions director Mike Thompson, and the upsides may not be worth it.

The assumption that NFC chips can only be read at very short distances is misplaced, he says, citing "plenty of examples" where people have accessed them over distances of several metres using specialised antennas.

These security flaws can be mitigated with the addition of passcodes or PINs - which can be added to smartphones or wearables, but not to the palm of your hand (yet).

An aluminium shield also works; for instance, a special aluminium wallet to protect your NFC-enabled credit card from would-be hackers.

Thompson is sceptical of the advantages of embedding chips into one's body over, say, clothing or other wearable devices.

"Is opening a door automatically when you are naked that important?"

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/implants-to-aid-payment-with-a-wave-of-the-hand/story-e6frgakx-1227368819195

Is it retail therapy gone mad? The dawn of a new cyborg age? Or a new meaning to going down under?

Whatever the case, a fair proportion of Australians are receptive to technology mixing with their precious human organic flesh, if it means making payments at retail stores is easier.

A survey, commissioned by global payments firm Visa, found 25 per cent of Australians were “slightly interested” in having a commerce-oriented chip implanted in their skin.

Research firm UMR conducted the survey for Visa, interviewing 1000 local consumers.

A subcutaneous chip would let consumers pay at a retail terminal without a wallet, credit card, smartphone or smartwatch. They would simply wave their bare hand over a terminal.

The finding was revealed as Visa and University of Technology Sydney announced a partnership to explore the future of wearable technology. Visa’s research looked at the wearable technology Australian consumers were interested in using for payments.

Thirty-two per cent would be interested in paying with a smartwatch; 29 per cent with a smart ring, and 26 per cent with smart glasses.

It is little wonder Visa regards Australians as adventurous with tech. “Australians are among the world’s earliest adopters of new technology,” said George Lawson, Head of Emerging Products and Innovation for Visa in ANZSP.

There’s nothing new about implanting tags under the skin. The US firm VeriChip obtained approval to do just that more than a decade ago.

Their chip consisted of a tiny antenna and an identification number. It was designed to be implanted in the soft tissue between the thumb and index finger and detected by a radiofrequency identification (RFID) scanner.

Before you see the human species morphing towards a cyborg future, there is a cautious note. Research in the past has linked subcutaneous chips to cancers in laboratory animals at the implant site.