It works for Fido, so why not you?

The same RFID implants used to identify lost pets are now being adapted for use on you and me, and not how one might have originally expected. As with all pioneering technologies, it’s leisure pursuits that are getting the first stab at the tech.

Specifically: One beach-oriented Barcelona nightclub, the Baja Beach Club, is using the implants to free customers of the burdens of having to carry their purses or wallets. Makes sense: When you’re spending the day in a bikini and flip-flops, where do you keep your ID? Instead, the bouncer just scans your arm with an RFID reader, and you’re in. And since you can’t carry a credit card or cash either, the implants do double duty: You can pay for drinks with a quick scan of the chip. Chipped patrons also gain access to VIP areas of the club.

The implant procedure is simple and mostly painless (except for all the legal paperwork required): The area where the chip is injected is thoroughly numbed, then the glass capsule is injected beneath a layer of skin and fat on the arm.

It’s an interesting experiment, and I’m intrigued to see whether the idea will catch on. The catch, of course, becomes what will happen if a lot of clubs in one area decide to do this. One RFID chip under the skin is probably an interesting conversation piece. A dozen in one arm might make you walk funny. Obviously the one-chip-per-establishment system isn’t really sustainable in the long run.

Could someone come along and develop a broad human RFID chip standard? Such plans have been being talked about for years, but nothing much has ever come of it. Naturally, security implications are huge: RFID tags can be scanned, copied, and altered by savvy hackers, and it would be a simple matter for a wily crook to scan people en masse as they pass through, say, the entrance of a mall. It’s one thing if they’re making off with free drinks on your dime, another if they can suck your life away with the wave of a wand.

Pro or con? Well... it’s something to think and talk about while you’re doing all that drinking!