Official: Human tracking chips don't work

Aug. 22, 2011 at 8:33 AM
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RESTON, Va., Aug. 22 (UPI) -- A U.S.-based security official says the technology needed to make human-implantable tracking devices work "just isn't there."

That's information thousands of Mexicans could use because the practice of implanting the small radio frequency identification chips has climbed 317 percent in five years because of an increase in kidnappings, The Washington Post reported.

People seek the devices, hoping they will send signals that will help rescuers find them if they are kidnapped, authorities say.

"The technology just isn't there," said Armand Gadoury, managing director of Clayton Consultants of Reston, Va. Clayton Consultants is a division of Triple Canopy, a security contracting firm that has had its business in Mexico double since the start of 2010.

"If the expectation is that you're going to hit a panic button and that law enforcement is going to mount a raid, then there will be zero planning," he said. "And that's even more dangerous for the victim."

Kidnappings in Mexico have increased the demand for the small chips, said Diego Kuri, an executive with Xega, a Mexican company that sells the chips and performs implants.

Kuri said the company's sales have increased 40 percent in two years.

"Unfortunately, it's been good for business but bad for the country," Kuri said of the kidnappings. "Thirty percent of our clients arrive after someone in their family has already experienced a kidnapping."

Xega charges people seeking the implant $2,000 up front, with annual fees of $2,000. For their money, implant customers get a radio frequency identification chip implanted into the fatty tissue of the arm.

"There's no way in the world something that size can communicate with a satellite," said Justin Patton, managing director of the University of Arkansas RFID Research Center. The company specializes in merchandise tracking for U.S. retailers, including Walmart.

"I have expensive systems with batteries on board, and even they can't be read from a distance greater than a couple hundred meters, with no interference in the way," Patton said.

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