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Getting chipped: Why I will live with an NFC chip implant for a year

René Schoemaker | Oct. 29, 2014
There are days when even your wife thinks you're crazy. In my case one those days was when I told her I decided to implant a near-field communication chip in my hand.

It can be used for RFID (radio-frequency identification) and NFC, which is basically an improved version of RFID. NFC differs from an RFID tag because it can send and receive, while an RFID tag can only send. This makes NFC ideal for intelligent solutions like payments.

The chip's storage capacity is pretty limited, the UID (unique identifier) is 7 bytes, while the read/write memory is 888 bytes. It can be secured with a 32-bit password and can be overwritten about 100,000 times, by which point the memory will be quite worn. Data transmission takes place at a baud rate of 106 kbit/s and the chip is readable up to 10 centimeters, though it is possible to boost that distance.

The plan is to test the chip's abilities for the next year. I will do that with Ruben Horbach, the founder of WizKid, an Internet of Things startup, who also still finds time to finish his Communication & Multimedia Design study.

I will also get help from Permanent Beta, a foundation that aims to bring people together to share knowledge about technology, science and art. The foundation will host live events where experiments will be demoed and where possible applications will be considered.

One of them is currently being build by our IT department at IDG Netherlands. They are working to let me gain access to our building with the chip in my hand and also are installing a reader on my PC so that the chip will serve as a password replacement when I log on.

But as far as I'm concerned, the project won't stop there. And therefore I need you, my readers, to tell me what you think would be a good use of the NFC chip.

So, last but not least, I'm looking for input from you. Tell me in the comments or in an email to what you think I should do. Maybe we can devise a way to hack the chip? Or maybe we could come up with a way — highly hypothetical, of course — to allow me to use Dutch public transport free for the rest of my life? Feel free to go nuts.

I won't promise you that I will do a certain test if I don't feel comfortable about it. But then again, I can't imagine what that would be!


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