RFID Body Mod Part 2
RFID. Radio Frequency IDentification. The technology comes in many different shapes and sizes, and is used in all sorts of applications. A very basic description of a tag would be to call it a device that uses simple radio waves to send its ‘name’ to a receiver somewhere, with no wires attached. They are around, even if you haven’t noticed them before, or just didn’t know them by name.
- Supermarkets, chain stores, and even libraries use RFID tags in almost all of the items they deal with, to act as a theft deterrent. If the cashier or librarian hasn’t ‘turned off’ the tag, the alarms go off as you leave the building. The tags can take many shapes. Some tags are designed for use in books. These are extremely thin with a sticky backing for adhering to the inside of the cover, like a price tag. Others, are designed for the inside of boxes or disc cases, more compact with a similar sticky backing. Tags like this are called passive. They have no power source built in. Instead, they use the signal coming from the ‘receiver’ to power up and send an ‘on’ or ‘off’ signal. If ‘on’ then the alarms go off. If ‘off’ then the item has been purchased or checked out, and was deactivated at the counter.
- Subway systems in large cities around the world use special ‘credit card’ style tags that help speed up payment delivery. At the station, just walk towards the gate and skim the card with the embedded tag along the surface of a special antenna on the turnstile and you are admitted through, eventually leading to your account automatically being billed. Best of all, if you need to add money to your account, it’s as simple as putting a 20 at the ticket machine and skimming your card over it. It automatically adds twenty dollars to your credit, and you are good to go.
- On some toll roads cars can be equipped with a higher power version of RFID tags that actively transmit to a receiver that hangs above the road. Then, instead of having to stop and pay at a toll booth, as the car drives by the unique ID is noted and the proper amount billed from the owners account, ensuring maximum efficiency.
- Use of tags has even begun in animals and in some cases, humans, with much controversy. In their most current widespread form, these small glass ampoules are injected using sterile equipment into pigs in farms. Each tag has a unique identification code that the farmer can read with a special hand held scanner. That code can be linked to an external database of all kinds of information, such as the animal’s age, purchase price, weight measurements, etc.
- The VeriChip Corporation has even in the past few years started issuing implants for people. The logic behind this move is that when injured a person can be rushed to a hospital, scanned in the standard implantation site (an area of the arm), and their family and medical history, records, and other pertinent information is then located and instantly accessible on a computer network using the ID. The only information stored on the tag is an ID. It’s easy to see why such technology could theoretically save lives.
So. I went the VeriChip way, right? No, not quite.
I’m a techie to the core, a hardware hacker. I love taking things apart, seeing how they work, putting them back together and making something superior out of what would seem like junk to other people. It’s how I live my life, it’s ‘what I do’.
VeriChip would tell me that that is a major no-go. Their RFID tags use encryption and a hundred other ins and outs specific to their own technology. I can’t do anything with that. I don’t have the time, money, or know how to get my hands on one of their readers and reverse engineer it so I can use that simple little unique ID in my own projects.
So with some help and advice from some very knowledgeable people, I did it myself.
Part 3 will have the first journal entry. If anyone has any comments or questions feel free to leave them below, I will be happy respond to them. If you missed any of the earlier journal entries, you can find them here.