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Digital Angel: The New Eye in the Sky


By Michael Della Bitta
Here's a story that will do the bar code on the back of Dark Angel star Jessica Alba's neck one better:

A network of satellites sends a positioning signal to a chip implanted beneath your skin. That chip, powered solely by body heat, relays the signal and your body's vital stats to a ground station.

The folks manning that ground station, as well as 'authorized' [WONDER WHO THAT COULD BE?] Internet users, can use that information for identifying you, tracking you and monitoring your health.

It's not sci-fi. Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) will, on Oct. 30, unveil and demonstrate Digital Angel, or DA, which is being touted for a number of uses.

There's the potential for the technology to monitor chronically-ill patients, track livestock to ensure food quality, track people who are at-risk for kidnapping, enforce the terms of a parole and identify people for security and ''e-commerce'' applications.

The Digital Angel system makes use of the Global Positioning System's network of satellites to figure out the chip's position. On-board biometric technology is capable of monitoring vital statistics such as body temperature, pulse rate and blood pressure. This information is then relayed via either another GPS signal or a wireless communications signal to a remote monitoring system.

The whole system is powered by body heat, so the chip doesn't have any batteries that need replacing. "The power source is building power all the time," says Richard Sullivan, Applied Digital Solutions' CEO.

"In drawing together the GPS and wireless capabilities and the first-ever integration of biosensor and heat-sensitive power regeneration," he says, "we should become the benchmark of the industry we should become the industry leader in that area."

Subdermal Silicon

While implantation under the skin in humans is an issue still pending with the Food and Drug Administration, that won't delay the release of Digital Angel. "I think that FDA approval is, in the interim, not necessary because DA can be a wristband or adhered to anywhere on your body via a patch," says Sullivan.

But make no mistake implantation is on the way. According to Sullivan, the FDA is first interested in implanting livestock with the chip so the quality of meat can be ensured.

Digital Angel doesn't transmit a signal all the time. Ordinarily, the only way the chip would be activated would be by a controlling authority a parent in the case of a kidnapping, an owner in the case of a theft, a doctor in the case of an ill patient.

"If you call upon it, it emits the appropriate information that's requested. And/or in the case of an emergency, it has low-line minimums that cause DA to turn on automatically," says Sullivan. These minimums would activate the chip in an emergency a heart attack, for example.

Throw Away Your Credit Cards?

Since Applied Digital Solutions is 'primarily' an 'e-commerce solutions' company, one way the company wants to see the chip used is for identification and authentication for 'electronic commerce'.

[Rev 13:17] so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast's name or the number that stood for its name.]

As Sullivan puts it, "You want to access and go online with your MSN or AOL account, you'll have DA transmitting your profile at request."

The same could be true for Amazon and any other electronic retailer. One-click shopping is somewhat obsolete when competing against something that identifies you by your mere presence.

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