July 27, 2005 -- They're here. They have FDA approval. But are Americans ready to get chipped?
Getting chipped means having a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip implanted in your body. The chip -- about the size of a large grain of rice -- lies dormant until a special scanner is passed within 6 inches of the implant. Then it emits a radio signal that beams a 16-digit number to the scanner.
For security uses, that 16-digit number acts like an electronic key. For medical uses, the number is linked to medical records. Doctors to whom you've granted access -- emergency room doctors, for example -- can use the key to quickly get hold of your medical records.
Who would want such a thing? That depends on how you ask, says Scott Silverman, CEO of Applied Digital, which makes the FDA-approved RFID called VeriChip.
"When we first announced VeriChip, a network poll asked people if they would put one in their bodies," Silverman tells WebMD. "Only 9% said yes. After FDA approval, 19% said yes. When former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson joined our board, the rate went up to 33%. But our own study shows that if you ask people whether they would have a VeriChip implant to identify their medical records in case of an emergency, the positive response goes to 80%."