September 1995

pg 78


Think of it as a bar code for your pet. It's the Trovan electronic identification tag: a miracle of technology similar to Destron's LifeChip, it measures about 1 centimeter long and just a few millimeters in diameter. Implanted under the skin with a simple, hand-held tool, each chip contains a unique, 64-bit identification code, readable at a distance of about a foot. And, because the chip is passive [meaning, it works without batteries], it'll last as long as your pet does.

For US$25 [lifetime charge] and a veterinary cost you can store your pet's identification code as well as your name, address, and phone number - in a national database operated by InfoPet Identification Systems Inc. of Burnsville, Minnesota. Organizations like the ASPCA in New York City, San Diego County in California, and the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, are buying readers. So if you lose Fido in one of these locales, there's a pretty good chance you'll get him back.

But why stop with pets?

InfoPet markets the implantable transponder for pigs, sheep, cows, and horses. Besides being computer-readable, the chips are less painful than the ear-tags, brands, or tattoos they replace. Even better, a trained farmer can implant more than 200 animals in an hour.

Animate objects are by no means the limit.

According to Trovan's distributor, Santa Barbara based Electronic Identification Devices Ltd., the Australian Wool Corporation has used the system to identify bales of wool, while, in England, Yamaha dealers will happily chip your motorcycle. For less than UK£65 [about US$100], you can have an ID chip implanted into your bike's frame, wheels, tank, and seat. If the bike is stolen or stripped, the parts can still be tracked.

Of course, the burning question is, What about people?

There would be no technical problem, says Barbara Masin, director of operations for Electronic Identification Devices, in implanting the chips in humans. But to avoid a public relations nightmare, the Trovan dealer agreement specifically prohibits putting chips under the skin.

That dictum hasn't slowed innovation one bit, however. In Australia, explains Masin, one nursing home gives each of its patients a bracelet equipped with a Trovan chip. As the patients walk through a reader installed at the door of the hospital, each ID code is automatically scanned. If, say, an Alzheimer's patient wanders outside, an alarm sounds. But if a patient with walking privileges passes through the same door, the alarm remains silent. Impressed with the results, a few prisons are also looking into the Trovan system, Masin claims, though she declines to say which ones.

The Trovan system is showing up inside identification tags as well. At least half a dozen European ski resorts are putting chips inside lift tickets.

Electronic Identification Devices also recommends hiding them in parking passes, meal cards, amusement park passes, club identification cards ..... but what a pain carrying all those cards around.

Wouldn't it be far simpler to implant a chip into your shoulder, and be done with it?

Stay tuned.

Simson Garfinkel



BTW- You may order a microchip injector/reader system

[designed for livestock] from-

Riley Identification Systems,

10800 Towne Road Carmel, IN 46032