My NFC implant

For quite a few years now I’ve wanted to get a RFID implant. The main use for one I suppose is as a key that you can’t lose. RFID readers are readily available and it’s not too hard to add a microcontroller and get it doing what ever you want. The main reason I didn’t get one is that the last few places I’ve worked (and a friend’s holiday house) have used the proprietary Paxton RFID entry system. Whilst this works using a 125kHz carrier like most standard systems, it’s deliberately incompatible with the standard EM4100/EM4200 125kHz tags that are available in implantable form. Very annoying. I did contact Paxton to see if it would be possible ot create an implantable Paxton tag, but unsurprisingly they said it wasn’t. It would be annoying having a RFID implant that I could almost use every day!

Well, everything changed when I spotted a crowdfunded campaign for a NFC based implantable tag. It was run by someone I recognised from his work with EM4200 tags – Amal Graafstra. NFC is similar, but it works using a high frequency 13.56MHz frequency. It’s pretty much high frequency RFID with a few protocols on top. The big plus is that reading NFC is supported by things like smart phones. I decided to go for it. Here it is.

It was a particularly well run campaign. (Much better that the Agent watch I’m still waiting for.) A few months later and my ready to implant tag arrived!

Ready to implant

Ready to implant

On to the next step – getting it implanted. This proved a little trickier. Some people have done it themselves and I’m not too squeamish about these things, but you really need two hands and as it’s going to be stuck into one of them, you only have one free! My wife’s a GP and would definitely be capable of doing it, but she refused. Not for any medical or ethical reason – just because she said it was “weird, geeky and creepy and if I wanted something daft like that done she wouldn’t help”. Fair enough I suppose. I went to a few piercing / tattoing studios but they all felt it was outside of what they were comfortable with. Eventually Kalima were recommended and I popped along. They were really friendly, helpful and professional. I can’t recommend them highly enough. It wasn’t cheap (£100) but I’d checked out the quality of their other work and was impressed – especially with things like ear reconstruction which must be far more complicated that this!

Anyway, with detailed instructions from Dangerous Things and Quentin’s experience with implanting neodymium magnets and stuff, it al went well. Anyway, enough of the waffle. You probably just wanted to see some gory photos!

X marks the spot

X marks the spot

In it goes

In it goes

Just checking the position is right

Just checking the position is right

A bit of bleeding

A bit of bleeding

I’m also glad to say it works really well unlocking both my Nexus 5 phone and the Samsung Ezon SHS-2320 lock on my workshop. I’ve currently got my contact vCard on it so can give my details to someone just by touching their (NFC enabled) phone against my hand. That would have been much more useful before I was married!

10 thoughts on “My NFC implant

    • I’ve been doing a few experiments with commercially available readers and will try to write up soon.

      My Nexus 5 will read if you press the implant against exactly the right spot on the back. Most readers available on eBay read OK if the implant is a few mm away from the PCB trace rather than in the middle of the coil. The Samsung lock is definitely the best and reads flawlessly. I might risk dissembling it to see how the antenna is done. It would be the one to copy.

      I believe Mathieu at Hack-a-day is looking at a custom antenna design for his xNT but not sure how that’s progressing.

      • I’m wondering if it’s possible to install an antenna directly into the door knob/handle. I’ve got a quick set zwave lever, but I feel like the mm or 2 thick metal would interfere.

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  3. I agree that the implanted NFC may be “unethical” but I see the need for special cases, such as elderly, mentally limited, or patients with specific medical conditions where the person cannot speak or describe their situation (such as being unconscious) in an emergency. This is similar to the medical emergency tag or strap, but being implanted it will never get lost or damaged. Please promote this for these purposes more than just as a “geeky” item.

    • I’m not sure who you’re agreeing with as nobody said this was “unethical”. To be honest I find the situations you describe – implanting a tag without the person’s informed consent – to be unethical.

      You should be able to do what you like with your own body. It’s a completely different situation when you want to implant one in someone else, even if you think you have good intentions.

    • No. Is going to do some more experiments to see if the Paxton could be copied over to a T5577 bit never got round to it after my eBay Proxmark3 never arrived. I suspect that it can’t.

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