What Events Lead A Man To Have Circuitry Implanted In Him
An in depth look at NFC implants
Regular readers of my posts may already know that I am the proud owner of an NFC implant, one of the questions I am asked the most is “What would lead you to want an NFC chip placing inside your hand” among the many other obvious questions. It is my intention to finally answer many of these questions here.
- Why I did it (Editorial)
- What is NFC?
- So what are NFC implants?
- What can they be used for?
- How are they implanted?
Why I did it (Editorial) ^
My story here begins at the beginning of my university life, I had just begun a degree in Agricultural Science and my universities security department took their job very seriously. Upon entering the universities driveway, I was greeted each day with an unmanned security barrier that only my student card would raise. To enter my halls of residence I had to scan my card on a reader by the door handle, and then once inside on my corridor door one last time before unlocking my room door with a key. In fact every single building on campus had a swipe panel for access, to purchase food on site I had to use money prepaid on to my account via my card and the library was completely automated by way of my (by this point resented) student card. By the end of my first month I was weary of this long procedure; living on the ground floor I would be woken at all hours by fellow students knocking on my window saying they had forgotten their card, a sin I too was guilty of.
Common sense told me that the cards worked in a similar manner to the chip inside my debit cards (the UK is far ahead of the U.S. in this regard), passport and even the tags located on bus stops all over the country. So taking my faithful Note 2 I scanned it and was unsurprised to see details for it appear, describing it as a Mifare ultralight card. Taking a look over the XDA forums I came to the conclusion that I had neither the free time nor the technical ability to emulate the card on my phone and so with my studies rapidly taking up more of my time, the project lost my attention for the time being. Just weeks later I was in the milking shed of my university herding the cows towards the milking parlour when I had an epiphany, once the cows had been milked the gates would no longer open for them meaning that they could not re-enter. If these “doors” could tell which cow was which, why couldn’t my doors and barriers tell who I was? Looking deeper into the subject I discovered that each cow had an RFID chip in the form of an ear tag that sensors near the gates would read and then communicate whether they had been milked recently. Not wanting an ear tag of my own and not being able to wear a ring due to the practical aspects of my course. I restarted my research into the subject and that is when I chanced upon an article, small and with no comments in the archives of an online newspaper. This article did not go into much depth but did state that a man had had an NFC chip placed inside his hand and he could now open doors with it. The article has since been lost to time, but I did track down the man in question. His name was Amal Graafstra and he had recently given a talk on the subject for Ted X.
Bringing the full kit Amal had provided, the piercer and I spoke again for well over an hour this time about the procedure, he walked me through what was to happen and marked my hand. 30 seconds, a small pinch and a click later and the procedure was done (you can read the specifics below), he told me not to try and use it for a couple of days to let it heal and after, paying, leaving a tip and shaking hands (my implant is in my left) we parted ways. Stopping at a supermarket on the way home I went to call my partner, as my phone came out my pocket and was unlocked I heard a notification “New tag found”. All of chances of shopping gone, I called a cab and downloaded the Xposed module NFC LockscreenOff Enabler. By the time I walked in the door I had also replaced my lock pattern with a long knock code that showed no indication of attempts. As far as I was concerned my hand was now the only easy way of unlocking my phone.
Early the next day I entered the I.T department and told them what I had done, many one word questions (What? Where? How? and Why?) and the first of many references to a certain chapter of the bible ensued. I have come to believe that these references do not mean that someone genuinely believes what they are saying or that they are necessarily religious, but instead they tend to reach for the first and most widely known reference point they know. After answering all the questions I had thrown from what had rapidly become a small crowd they agreed to add it to the database. I had hoped that they like many of our readers share the mentality of thinking “I wonder if this works” first and considering security later and I was right, upon walking to the door and placing my hand against the reader a red line of text appeared on the computer that was used to program the cards. Selecting it, they added it to the system with my name and student number and I was done. I now had the ability to open any door on campus by simply placing my hand on the reader next to the panel, over time I would learn to do this in one smooth motion whilst reaching for the handle.
Years on and the implant still plays a significant role in my life, I use it now as a business card that automatically saves my contact details to a phone amongst other more frequent uses. These include sending links and information to people quickly without the need for contact information, sending files via the share URLs in Google Drive and as a way of logging on to my Windows PC.
So What Is NFC? ^
Nokia, Philips and Sony created the NFC forum in 2014, it is this group that decides on NFC standards. These standards are divided into two sections: passive RFID tags and active device communication. Passive tags are comprised of 4 types of RFID that can be used as NFC tags based on their protocols. meaning all NFC tags are in fact just RFID tags that have been certified by the NFC forum. NFC is simply just a method of sending data through electromagnetic induction. The key difference between this technology and Bluetooth is that as it can be used in an active device (such as your phone) to induce electrical current in passive devices, meaning NFC tags do not need their own power supply. They allow for the communication of devices at a distance of less than 4 cm with a maximum speed of 424 kbps.
An extensive list of Mobile devices that feature NFC can be viewed here.
“We heard from a lot of users of the [OnePlus] One and saw most of our users weren’t using NFC.”
“Forget educating users on the awesome things NFC can do, it’s easier just to remove the technology.”
So what are NFC implants? ^
The company Dangerous Things provide four different kinds of tags, the below descriptions are taken directly from their store and the links will take you to each product’s page.
xEM 125khz EM4102
The xEM is a low frequency 125khz transponder based on the EM4102 chip which has no user programmable memory or security features. Each xEM tag is programmed at the factory with a unique ID that cannot be changed, and it works with common EM41xx based readers available through many hobby electronics shops and electronics outlets. Several commercial systems can also read and work with the xEM tag, however we offer it as a “starter” implant for people new to RFID in general. The xEM is low cost, simple to use, and we also sell an xEM Access Control unit that works beautifully with the xEM tag that enables hobbyists to cheaply and easily build simple access control type projects.
xNT 13.56mhz NTAG216
The xNT is a high frequency 13.56mhz transponder based on the NTAG216 chip. The NTAG216 has 888 bytes of user programmable memory, 32 bit password protection security features, and is both ISO14443A and NFC Type 2 compliant. You can use the xNT with both commercial systems that work with ISO14443A as well as NFC devices like mobile phones and new ISO14443A and NFC hobby electronics as well. There are several hobby electronics readers and reader kits available, including one we sell, that work with Arduino and other micro-controllers commonly used by hobbyists and product engineers alike.
xM1 13.56mhz S50 (Mifare Classic 1K)
The xM1 is a high frequency 13.56mhz transponder based on the Mifare Classic S50 1K chip. This chip type is ISO14443A compliant but is not NFC compliant. The xM1 has 768 bytes of user programmable memory and also supports Crypto1 security features. The xM1 is supported only on some NFC devices which contain a reader chip from NXP. While the xM1 will work with any ISO14443A reader, including our PN532 reader, it cannot be expected to work reliably with all NFC devices. We supply the xM1 for people who have a specific need for this particular chip type.
xIC 13.56mhz ICode SLI
The xM1 is a high frequency 13.56mhz transponder based on the ICODE SLI chip. This chip type is ISO15693 compliant but is not NFC compliant. The xIC has 128 bytes of user programmable memory but has no security features. The xIC is supported only on some NFC devices which contain a reader chip from NXP. While the xIC will work with any ISO15693 proximity reader, it cannot be expected to work reliably with all NFC devices. We supply the xIC for people who have a specific need for this particular chip type.
What can they be used for? ^
The short answer: anything you can use a normal nfc tag for and/or anything you can use a mifare card for including:
- Unlocking phones
- Miifare authentication
- Logging in to Windows
- Passing information such as URLs and contact details without the need for social media or email etc
- Launching Tasker profiles
- Opening Apps
- Unlocking Samsung EZON digital locks
- Activating Cyanogen Profiles
- Anything you can use a NFC tag, RFID tag or Miifare card for!
The longer answer: you can check out the NFC implants thread for more ideas and guides.
How are they implanted? ^
The implants are placed inside the hand by means of a syringe, the skin between the thumb and first finger is gently pinched together and the tag is injected into the cavity formed by the needle as it goes in.
The following video is part of the Dangerous Things’ training programme and observes an implantation, obviously don’t try this at home.
If you have had an injection before then you already know the level of pain to expect here, it is just a sharp pinch followed by the needle tugging as it exits and its done! If implanted correctly they are safe and of course they can be removed safely by any doctor in a manner similar to that of a contraceptive implant. It has now become part of my life and is used many times a day. I believe that this implant has been a benefit to my life and can’t recommend them enough for people who are interested.
If you would like to purchase an implant or find out more visit Dangerous Things.