As reported way back in the first issue of Gizmo, US-based Digital Angel has produced the VeriChip, an implantable computer chip which monitors human biometric functions and transmits the data with GPS technology. The VeriChip has now been approved for human medical use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of America, opening up the age of implantable technology.
The VeriChip system is already being used in a variety of innovative solutions, including monitoring the vital stats of at-risk patients, farm animal management systems, locating stolen property, managing commodity supply chains, monitoring the location of parolees and providing a tamper-proof means of identification for enhanced e-commerce security.
The FDA's green light of the VeriChip will help doctors access stored medical information about their patients and speed delivery during medical emergencies. The chip itself does not contain medical records but an access code that that can be scanned and revealed by a hand held scanner. VeriChip is not an FDA-regulated device with regard to its security, financial, personal identification or safety applications.
The VeriChip Health Information Microtransponder System consists of an implantable RFID microtransponder, an inserter, a proprietary hand-held scanner, and secure database containing the patient approved healthcare information. About the size of a grain of rice, VeriChip is a subdermal radio frequency microchip. Once inserted under the skin in a brief outpatient procedure, the VeriChip cannot be seen by the human eye. Each VeriChip contains a unique 16-digit verification number that is captured by briefly passing a proprietary scanner over the insertion site. The captured 16 digit number links to the database via encrypted Internet access. The previously stored information is then conveyed via the internet to the registered requesting healthcare provider.
With the VeriChip invisible to the naked eye, health care workers may soon have to scan unconscious patients as part of the normal hospital routine. The company hopes the VeriChip will be utilised by patients suffering from ailments like Alzheimer's and diabetes or who undergo intensive treatments like chemotherapy and need constantly updated medical data. Implantation of the VeriChip is expected to cost between US $150 to $200 and takes less than twenty minutes.
If popular, the success of the medical applications of the VeriChip may herald further uses for security, identification and e-commerce.