Swedish startup Epicenter unveils rice-sized microchip implant that stores COVID vaccine passport
under your skin and is read with technology used to take contactless payments
Epicenter showed off a rice-sized microchip that sits under the skin
The microchip can store the person's coronavirus vaccine status
A device with near-field communication can access the information
This can be done my holding a smartphone with near-field communication over the chip and the vaccination status appears on the screen
Epicenter, a Stockholm-based startup, unveiled a new way of carrying around a COVID vaccine passport – in a microchip implanted under your skin.
The implant can be read by any device using the near-field communication (NFC) protocol – technology used for contactless payments and keyless entry systems.
In a video shared by Epicenter, Hannes Sjöblad, chief distribution officer, has the chip in his arm and simply waves a smartphone over it to pull up his vaccination status.
'Implants are very versatile technology that can be used for many different things, and right now it is very convenient to have COVID passport always accessible on your implant, he said in a statement.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2, a pandemic.
From then, the virus took hold of the world – shuttering businesses and forcing people into their homes for months.
Although lockdowns have since eased worldwide, the coronavirus is still running rampant and is mutating into new variants that are harder to stop from spreading.
However, the world now has access to vaccines, which eases symptoms of the deadly virus, and information of vaccine status is provided in paper or digital form known as a COVID passport.
Many venues, restaurants, bars, concert halls and museums, across the US are requiring visitors present their vaccination status in order to enter the building.
And Epicenter wants to make presenting this information as easy as possible.
'In case your phone runs out of battery, it's always accessible to you. So of course, that's how we use this technology today, next year we are going to use it for something else,' said Sjoblad.
The microchip sits directly beneath the skin, either in the arm or between the thumb and forefinger.
According to Sjöblad, the procedure is 'completely reversible' and does not require a special phone app.
Epicenter's implanted microchip is not a new innovation, as the company has been using it for years – and with its own employees.
In 2015, the company announced it had implanted the microchip in more than 100 of its employees, which allows them to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand.
The chip is implanted with a simple injection of a syringe and with a click, a microchip is injected in the employee's hand.
When activated by a reader a few inches away, a small amount of data flows between the two devices via electromagnetic waves.
And although the microchip passports are not yet ready for market, it is safe to assume that is how they will be implanted.
Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and CEO of Epicenter, said in a 2017 statement: 'The biggest benefit I think is convenience.
'It basically replaces a lot of things you have, other communication devices, whether it be credit cards or keys.'