- A Swedish start-up has created scannable digital implants that display one’s COVID vaccine passport.
- The technology involves a small, grain-sized implant being inserted under the skin.
- When the implant is scanned with a smartphone, one’s COVID-19 vaccination details and test results can be viewed via a PDF.
A Swedish start-up has created a microchip that can be implanted into the skin, displaying details of one’s COVID vaccine passport when scanned.
The invention, created by tech firm Dsruptive Subdermals, involves a pre-programmed scannable implant 2 millimeters by 16 millimeters in size being inserted just beneath the skin.
“I have a chip implant in my arm, and I have programmed the chip so that I have my COVID passport on the chip, and the reason is that I always want to have it accessible,” Hannes Sjoblad, managing director of Dsruptive Subdermals, told the AFP.
Sjoblad demonstrated for the AFP how it was possible to scan the chip with his phone to bring up a PDF that showed all the details of his EU Digital COVID Certificate, a pass somewhat similar to the US’s vaccine card. It indicates that one is inoculated against COVID-19, or that the person has been tested with a negative result.
“This means it is always accessible for me or for anyone else, really, who wants to read me. For example, if I go to the movies or go to a shopping center, then people will be able to check my status even if I don’t have my phone,” Sjoblad, who is also chief disruption officer at start-up Epicenter Stockholm, said.
The AFP reported that an implant costs 100 euros (around $112).
Sjoblad told the AFP that these implants are not tracking devices, and only respond to being scanned.
“If you understand how these implants work, they don’t have a battery. They cannot transmit a signal by themselves. So they are basically passive. They sit there asleep,” Sjoblad said. “They can never tell your location, they’re only activated when you touch them with your smartphone, so this means they cannot be used for tracking anyone’s location.”
Sjoblad told Insider in an email that the implant does not need to be removed in order to be updated.
“It is easy to update the implant, you can use an app on your phone to change what is on the chip. So I can add new info to the chip every day — yesterday it was my Linkedin, today it’s my COVID certificate, tomorrow it could be something else,” Sjoblad said.
Separately, Dsruptive Subdermals has also created another chip implant that can measure body temperature in people, and serve as a scannable temperature sensor.
Sjoblad’s interest in subdermal implants dates back to 2014, when he organized implant parties at tattoo parlors where volunteers turned up to get implants placed under their skin.
“I am convinced that this technology is here to stay and we will think it nothing strange to have an implant in their hand,” Sjoblad told the BBC in 2014, saying he hoped to get 1,000, then 10,000 people on board with the program.
While this idea might still be very new to the US, thousands of people in Sweden have signed up to get microchip implants. In 2018, the NPR reported that thousands of people were getting the rice grain-sized chips inserted just above their thumbs, making it easy for them to get scan themselves into homes, gyms, and offices or to pay for public transport by swiping their hands over digital readers.