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Verichips for People

Oct. 27 - Scott Silverman, Chairman and CEO, Applied Digital said, "To put it bluntly the medical application of verichip allows the chip to talk for you when you can't talk."

The cylinder-shaped chip, still in its infancy has been surgically injected into the upper right arm of a thousand people around the world. But that number is likely to drastically change with the FDA's recent approval.

This is how it works. The chip contains a 16-digit code that can only be accessed by a hand held scanner, that number then connects the ambulance driver or emergency room technician to a database that holds the customer's medical information.

But it doesn't stop in the ER.  "The benefits of the technology lie in the application."

Specifically the medical application, the security application and even the financial application but the company still has a long way to go get the system up and running in the U.S.

"The idea is to get a scanner in every emergency room, in every ambulance, with every law enforcement personnel."

The company plans on sending 200 to 300 scanners over the next 6 months.

"If you follow the pattern that we did in the medical world, I mean the animal world, today we have over 50,000 scanners across the United States."

Applied Digital faces a difficult task, convincing the American public to insert a $200 microchip into their skin, and getting the medical establishment to embrace the technology.

"I think the ethical issue, the most important issue really is informed consent. The patient really has to understand what the pros are, what the cons are, what the risks are, both in terms of the physical use of the data, and who will have access to it."Dr. Prager Chairs the Ethics Committee at Columbia Presbyterian.

"People might consider that there are other ways that are more conventional and more comfortable if people like to have information on a piece of paper or a little microchip in their wallet."

"There's a number of responses to that. We've all heard of the medical alert bracelets, we've all heard of id cards for people that receive medical devices. But when you're brought into an emergency room, you're unconscious, and you're unable to communicate, how often do emergency personnel dig through your wallet. How secure, how tamper proof is a medical alert bracelet or something in your wallet?" said Silverman.

One of the big issues here is obviously privacy. Advocates have expressed concerns that someone's information could somehow be hijacked. Applied Digital says they've built in enough firewalls to protect their customers.

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