CSU student discusses computer chip implant

Haley Candelario

Blake Edwards, a freshman computer science major, received an NFC chip implant in his left hand as marked by sharpie between his thumb and index finger. The NFC chip can be used for controlling some wireless devices and writing information. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)

Freshman computer science major Blake Edwards has an ability rare among others: he can use a near-field communication chip located in his hand to interact with technology.

The NFC chip, which holds about 880 bytes of memory and is less than 12 millimeters in size, was recently implanted in the webbing between Edwards’ index finger and thumb by a body piercer at Bound by Design. Bound by Design is a Denver-based tattoo and piercing studio. The studio partnered with the chip’s manufacturer, Dangerous Things, which sells items such as computer chips and biomagnets.

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Edwards said it was an easy decision to get the chip because he knew he could get it removed if he did not like it.

“Essentially, it was every reason to do it and no reason not to do it,” Edwards said. “I thought, ‘okay, if it goes wrong and I hate it and I can’t stand it, I can just take it out.'”

The chip allows Edwards to interact with his smartphone, laptop and other technology that is configured to the chip.

“It has the ability to communicate with devices just like any other NFC chip has, which means that I can read it from my phone and write memory to it from my phone,” Edwards said. “If I hooked it up to a door that was configured for the identifier in my hand, I could then open the door. I can then use the capabilities of NFC to manipulate devices and, since it’s in my hand, I can just manipulate devices with my hand.”

Edwards said he cannot tell the chip is in his hand unless he moves it a certain way.

“You’re supposed to get adjusted to it and not even feel it after two to four weeks and now it’s the second week,” Edwards said. “I don’t remember it’s there except when I move my hand a certain way because it’s still not completely adjusted.”

Although he favors the chip, Edwards said he is looking forward to future improvements of it.

“Using this, I can do a bunch of really neat stuff with it and it’s part of my hand, but there’s also more to come,” Edwards said. “I’m really looking forward to future upgrades, which would enable more compatibility with other stuff and more memory.”

Edwards believes the opportunities he has to use the NFC chip are endless.

“As a computer science (major) and a programmer, there’s a lot I can do with (the chip). I can really do whatever I want with it,” Edwards said. “There’s a lot of different ideas that I have for (it) such as communicating with devices, storing memory.”

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Edwards said the chip is significant to him because it has a variety of uses.

“It’s not very special to me just because it’s a small NFC chip that I’m holding along with me,” Edwards said. “It’s special because it’s in my hand. If I don’t do anything with it, oh well. If I do something with it, then I can now interact with a device using my hand, which is very cool for me.”

Collegian reporter Haley Candelario can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @H_Candelario98.