NFC implants

NFC implant in the hand in front of black NFC scanner

NFC implants are small capsules which contain a common NFC tag and are implanted between thumb and index finger. The NFC tags inside are passive data storages which can be encoded by users with various types of content. As NFC tags don’t bring their own energy source, the stored content can only be read if an active NFC reader like a NFC-enabled smartphone is coming very close (1-4 cm).  

Applications of NFC implants

Identification

Each NFC implant is encoded with a unique serial number (UID). As every user wears the implant inside his body, this UID can also be utilized to identify the owner of a NFC implant. Currently, the NFC standard is used more often than most people know, for example in fitness studio member cards or monthly tickets for public transport. In case the number of these NFC cards is overwritten with the implant’s UID in the database of the corresponding fitness studio or transport company, the owner of a NFC implant can leave all member cards and monthly cards at home. Even the own front door can be opened via a simple hand movement if a special NFC door lock is installed.

Store and share content

Moreover, users can store various types of content on their NFC implants such as text, URLs or contact data. Once a NFC implant is scanned with a NFC-enabled smartphone the stored content triggers a specified action on the smartphone. For example, if the implant contains a URL the corresponding website opens automatically.

Changing smartphone properties

Various apps for encoding NFC tags can be used to store command chains for changing several smartphone properties at once on an implant. An exemplary command chain could look like this: WiFi on/off, Bluetooth on/off, ringtone on/off and start alarm app. By scanning the NFC implant all these properties are changed at once and in addition the alarm app is started. When the implant is scanned another time, all properties are resetted to their previous states. Only apps have to be closed manually.

Overall, the possible applications of NFC implants are the same as for normal NFC tags. The main advantage of implants is that the NFC technology is located inside the human body and thus, can be used without any additional NFC products. On the one hand, NFC implants are more comfortable and have an even higher coolness factor than normal NFC tags. On the other hand, NFC implants come along with a small surgical procedure.   

Inserting and removing NFC implants

Implantation

Most NFC implants are shipped with a delivery syringe attached. However, this shouldn’t be understood as an invitation to perform the surgical procedure on your own. Instead, you can visit a doctor or piercer who will be able to insert the implant professionally. During the procedure, the implant is slid into the delivery syringe which is then inserted between thumb and index finger. Afterwards, the implant can be slid under the skin. According to experience reports in internet forums the pain is comparable to a bee sting.

Healing process

The small wound should heal in 6-8 weeks completely. At the latest then the implant won’t feel like a foreign object in your body anymore. As long as the wound is still open, a breathable plaster should be applied and a waterproof plaster during showers. In some cases, physical complaints such as bruises, swellings or numbness occur around the wound, but these should subside on their own in a few days.

Removing NFC implants

In case you don’t feel comfortable with your implant after a while, it can be removed by a doctor or piercer. Therefore, an anesthetic ointment or spray will be applied to your skin and a small incision is performed. Then, the NFC implant can be slid out through this incision. Owners of NFC implants sometimes decide to remove their implant because security concerns related to the technology inside their bodies arise.

Security concerns about NFC implants

NFC Implants transmit data to the government

Many people fear a frightening surveillance scenario as it was once described in the famous novel “1984” by George Orwell. However, NFC implants don’t have an own energy source. Therefore, the stored data can only be read, if a NFC-enabled reader is hold very close to the implant (1-4 cm). Only under this condition, the NFC reader transmits a small electromagnetic field which enables the implant to transfer data to the reader. Thus, it’s not a realistic scenario that NFC implants start to send data on their own.

Hackers attack NFC implants

The reverse case isn’t possible either because NFC implants have no own energy source. Hacker can’t simply encode a NFC implant with new content from afar. To encode a NFC implant a NFC-enabled smartphone has to come very close (1-4 cm). So, theoretically it would be possible to overwrite content on a NFC implant, but only from close proximity.

Burglars copy NFC implants

Though it’s very comfortable to replace various member cards, monthly cards and even the front door key with a NFC implant, one has to keep in mind that this is only possible because of the implant’s UID. Thus, concerns have been expressed that burglars might create their own NFC tags with the same UID to gain easy access to houses with NFC door lock. However, it’s not that easy. In theory, it would be possible to copy a NFC implant. Nevertheless, the burglar would have to come very close in order to read the UID of your implant. Furthermore, copying a NFC implant requires a decent amount of technical knowledge. Thus, it would be easier for a typical burglar to simply pick your front door’s lock.

Bottom Line

It can’t be denied that NFC implants can make our lives more comfortable. We could leave our member cards, monthly cards and front door keys at home and use gestures to interact with our environment. However, NFC implants weren’t extensively researched, yet. Thus, it’s still unclear whether NFC implants have harmful effects on the human body. Fortunately, normal NFC tags can be used for the same applications as NFC implants. So, everyone who has a skeptical attitude towards NFC implants is still able to benefit from the NFC technology.

Erstellt: 2017-08-23 / Aktualisiert: 2020-08-06 2017-08-23 2020-08-06