First of all what is “Getting Chipped”? Is it taking a pill or looking at a girl or boy What is getting Chipped? Getting Chipped is having a microchip device usually with RFID technology in it so your chip can be read by other devices wirelessly implanted under your skin Its not much different than getting your ears or nose pierced. Your pet pup may allready have one but the technology has very different applications for Lacey the dog than it does for humans. Pets’ microchips help identify them if they get lost. For us, microchips will make life more convenient. The Swedish incubator Epicenter began microchipping its employees in 2015 — not to track bathroom breaks or productivity but to give them the power to operate printers and more. The tiny, grain-of-rice-size RFID (radio frequency identification) chip opens doors with a wave of your hand in front of a chip reader. And at Pause Fest, an Australian tech expo, 10 VIPs volunteered to swap paper tickets for implanted-microchip ones. Imagine an internal key fob.
The RFID chip isn’t the only technology being used. Grindhouse Wetware, a biohacking start-up in Pittsburgh, is experimenting with powered implants: The RFID chip is powered by the device it interacts with, like the card scanner on your office door, while the implants are powered internally by a battery. Cofounder Tim Cannon inserted a monitor slightly smaller than a stack of credit cards into his forearm that would read his temperature and, through Bluetooth, transmit that information to his Android. The monitor, called Circadia, can be used to control a Bluetooth thermostat or to call an ambulance if Cannon’s temperature spikes or drops too suddenly. “This was to prove that we could design and implant a subdermal device in the body for nonmedical purposes,” says Ryan O’Shea, a spokesperson for Grindhouse Wetware. “We’re looking at what abilities humans could have evolved to have biologically but didn’t,” he says, pausing. “Like bioluminescence.”
This is where skin technology meets cosmetics. “There’s a green LED light on the Circadia that we put there for purely practical purposes: to tell if the device was connected to Bluetooth,” O’Shea says. “But the light kind of backlit a tattoo on his arm, and people got very excited.” That led to the development of Northstar, a device that sits under the skin on the top of your hand and lights up in the shape of a red star. And that’s all there is to it. Aesthetics. “Version two of this device will include gesture recognition. You can gesture with your hands and kick off a reaction, like starting your car, locking your doors, or turning your lights on,” says O’Shea.
For Grindhouse Wetware, technology as a form of fashionable expression was a happy accident. For others, like MIT Media Lab researcher and DuoSkin lead researcher Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, it stemmed — as most good things do — from Beyoncé. “A few years ago, I was flipping through a fashion magazine and saw that Beyoncé had these cool metallic temporary tattoos. Me, the geeky engineer that I am, thought, Oh, my God, are these conductive?” They weren’t, of course. So Kao and her team, in collaboration with Microsoft, created DuoSkin, a jewelry-like temporary tattoo design that adheres to your skin for up to three days and uses conductive energy to interact with other devices. Slide your finger along the design to use it as a trackpad for your phone. Scan it with your phone to read encoded information. Designer Christopher Bevans used Kao’s technology for his 2017 menswear show: Models wore DuoSkin while they walked around the room, and audience members could scan them to find out more about the clothes they were wearing.
Chris Harrison, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, has been working on a similar idea since 2009. “People want to do more sophisticated things on mobile phones. And the industrial answer seemed to be: Let’s put bigger and bigger screens on them,” he says. “That only works up to a point. Why don’t we just forget the screen entirely? Why not use the skin? Instead of the three-and-a-half-inch iPhone, why not have the 20-inch arm bone?” So Harrison created OmniTouch (also in collaboration with Microsoft), a device worn on the shoulder that would project your phone interface onto your palm. A depth-sensitive camera picked up when and where you tapped on your skin, so the projection reacted with it. “The invention of smartphones enabled the creation of all these ideas and apps and services. Imagine what that will be like for the body,” Harrison says.
If you’re apprehensive, well, of course you are. “There’s a norm. So glasses are accepted — they’re not scary. That’s because they restore people to a norm, and the norm is 20/20 vision,” says cyborg anthropologist Amber Case. “Anything that enhances us above that norm is terrifying. If the device is used for restorative medical purposes, that’s great.” Of course, according to Case, even medical devices can be risky. “People are making these pacemakers with Bluetooth, and they have to be taken out every couple of years — they’re unstable; they can be hacked. If we’re going to have technology that close to us, we have to be careful about what it is.”
It’s obviously hard to predict the future. For every sci-fi movie set in 2020, there’s Harrison Ford tracking down bioengineered robots. But 2020 is two years away. And on-skin and under-skin computing are well underway.
“It’s exciting that people want to continue to push this envelope. Just like we can’t get enough shades of lipstick, people want to play with this stuff. It’s fun,” says Nina Jablonski, a professor in the anthropology department at Penn State University. “We’re highly visual animals. The more novel and exciting it is, the better. I imagine a future where people are going to be able to affix things to their body that are more expressive than tattoos to provide this much more dynamic look to the skin. And functional! Like patches that are UV-radiation and body-temperature monitors. It’s so exciting to think about this stuff.”