RFID Technology – Advancing Medicine and Convenience, But How Far is Too Far?

tooth-mounted-sensor

Tufts University nutrition-tracking sensor adhered to tooth

No, this is not a new fashion trend, though I would not be surprised if it did become one.  This is a new miniature sensor being developed at the Tufts University School of Engineering.  The device is meant to be mounted directly to a tooth and will transmit data about glucose, salt and alcohol intake to a wireless device .  The researchers expect that future advancements in sensor technology could detect and record data about an array of nutrients, chemicals and psychological states.

You may be wondering, “How does the sensor work”?  An adaption of RFID(radiofrequency ID) technology, the sensor is able to absorb a chemical, nutrient, etc., identify it and transmit a radiofrequency spectrum with varying intensity(measurement of quantity) back to a wireless device for reporting.

So just think, one day in the future an RFID chip in your mouth might be able to report to your phone or smartwatch what you ate and how much.  No more cheating on your diet, as those cookies you are sneaking will be recorded and reported.

Before we get to the point that this technology is adopted by consumers, like the Fitbit has been, I foresee it being useful for clinically medical purposes.  For instance, an individual that has been diagnosed by their doctor as having high blood pressure may have a sensor installed to help monitor their salt intake. Another potential application might be to help diabetics monitor their sugar intake and record and report in real time in order to help the patient adjust their diet.

Utilizing this technology by affixing to or implanting into humans leaves me with mixed feelings.  If this is the best and most effective way to monitor and prevent an illness, then yes, this technology seems reasonable.  But what if this technology is affixed to or implanted into a human simply for convenience?  Does this take things too far?

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Phot courtesy of NYTimes.com

 

Pictured above is Jowan Osterlund of Biohax International holding an RFID microchip that is implanted into humans for the sake of convenience.  Biohax partners with companies, like Three Square Market, to offer employees the option of implanting a rice-sized microchip into their hands so that they can swipe into work and pay for food in the company cafeteria.  Seems pretty cool and futuristic but completely unnecessary and scary.  Today I do not feel like I can disconnect from work because my phone is always in my hip pocket.  At least now I can turn my phone off. But inject a chip into me that would allow my employer to track my every move.  Forget that!

It will be interesting to see what medical applications researchers will be able to create for RFID technology and perhaps frightening what uses are found outside of medicine.  I suppose, like anything else, RFID technology can be used for good or evil.  It may ultimately be a personal choice as to how far each one of us are willing to go in using it.

 

 

This entry was posted in medical technology, RFID Technology, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to RFID Technology – Advancing Medicine and Convenience, But How Far is Too Far?

  1. sydhavely says:

    You’re right, RFID is a technology and tool with many benefits, as you point out regarding nutrition and other medical purposes. The downside is, as you also say, in its darker applications–tracking employees, becoming in essence, Big Brother. Well done.

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