NKU student wants to be first with chip implanted

NKU student wants to be first with implant. (WKRC)

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (Joe Webb) - A growing tech trend takes personal computing to its highest level.

It's gone from "hands-on" to "hands-in." More and more people are "bio-hacking" their bodies with implanted computer chips that can perform a wide range of tasks. Garrett Frey is already an accomplished entrepreneur and other than that seems like a pretty typical 21-year-old college student. Until you look more closely.

"It's right here in my left hand. You can see it and feel it if you touch it," he said.

Hardly bigger than a grain of rice is a radio frequency identification device implanted between Frey's thumb and index finger. Using an app on his phone, Frey uses the chip to open the deadbolt on his front door and unlock his phone.

"You can program it to send specific texts, turn on an alarm, set a timer, turn off your WI-FI. There's a vast number of things you can do with the actual chip," said Frey.

Frey's chip was injected using a syringe. He had a professional do it. The chip and insertion cost him $150. He's had it for more than a year but just recently told his parents, "You get your ears pierced or a tattoo that's one thing. Geting an actual implant of an rfid chip, it can be a taboo subject."

His parents are okay with it. Frey's chip is very simple. Like he said, it's not much different than the ID chip you have implanted in your dog or cat. But they are becoming more complex. Some record and store medical data. Others can be used as a compass that lights up and you can see through the skin. The technology is just starting to take off and more people are embracing; or ingesting it. Bio-hacking has sparked moral and ethical discussions. In computing circles it has raised security questions.

As the technology has shrunk from mainframes to desktops to laptops to phones to implants, has security kept up?

Dr. James Walden, PhD, NKU Center for Information Security, said, "Unfortunately, given every technology generation that I've seen we make the same security mistakes and we don't secure a new generation of technology until the mistakes are bad enough and cause enough dollars or human injuries to take security seriously again."

Frey said the information on his chip is encrypted and not hackable. Dr. Walden wasn't so sure that was the case. Either way, it's working unlocking doors; literally and figuratively. And Garrett Frey is getting firsthand experience on what the future may hold.

Frey is a senior at NKU but has already launched his own business. EventSpiderApp.com helps connect students to activities on campus and help schools retain their students.

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