RFID and Me

Spooky news from the US last week... The FDA has approved implantable RFID tags. These radio emitting devices enable t...

October 22, 2004

Spooky news from the US last week…

The FDA has approved implantable RFID tags.

These radio emitting devices enable the location of a physical object to be tracked by remote readers up to 50m or more away and then connected to a database of records stored remotely on the internet.

The ‘trivial’ short-term implication is that individual patients can effectively carry their full medical records on them at all times, through a radio frequency device the size of a grain of rice. Or their security record; or debt history; or sexual proclivity for that matter.

FDA Approves Implantable Chip – The RFID Weblog – rfid.weblogsinc.com

The long-term implications are profound.

As physical products connect, so the information databases they carry can also connect – in virtual space. While physical relationships are pursued, virtual transactions can also be taking place simultaneously and entirely remotely. A handshake can literally be your bond.

- Load up your buyer profile and a shop can automatically select items which match your desires.

- Pass a forgotten acquaintance in the street and your PDA can tell you their name, and where you last met.

- Forget your keys, and your personal web-site can tell you where you left them.

An end to theft, forgetfulness, pilferage, counterfeiting. All these are promised, or at least heralded by RFID.

But everything comes at a price. As the era of pervasive computing turns from a dream into slowly dawning reality, any number of moral dilemmas still need to be addressed.

For the companies that stand to benefit, transparency, rather than obfuscation will be the key.

It’s time RFID was put into context.

Like so many tehnologies, RFID can either empower consumers, or it can control them.

Which of the two scenarios comes to pass remains to be seen. One future is sustainable; the other is not.

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