25/04/2023 / Medical Advances

Implantable Microchips: Types, Advantages and Disadvantages

Are we ready for technology to literally get under our skin?

Implantable Microchips Types, Advantages and Disadvantages
Dr. Mrinalinee RoyDr. Mrinalinee Roy
Dr. Mrinalinee Roy
MBBS Doctor, Research Associate
Medically Cited
Fact Checked

Table of Content


Imagine tapping on your skin and being able to access the internet before your eyes, or maybe being able to call a friend. Sounds tempting right? Now, what if we told you that you might be able to do that in the near future. Yes, technology is becoming an indispensable part of our life. Technology is now seeping down under our skin and that too in literal terms. You must be wondering what we are talking about ? Well, we are talking about implantable microchips. 

Imagine that you met with an accident, and  become unconscious. You are rushed to the nearest hospital but the people who took you there don't know anything about you. They won't have access to your medical records, that would mean the doctor treating you might not be able to provide you with the best healthcare possible because of the missing information. Won't that put your life in danger? Now, if there happens to be a way in which the doctor can access all your medical records on the go, just by scanning a small area of your skin won't that be a blessing? That's just one thing an implantable microchip can do. Every year thousands of people die in hospitals due to medical errors that can be prevented. This can be done by technology like implantable microchips. 

What are Implantable Microchips?

Let's break down the term, what would you understand if someone said implant? An implant would be a foreign object that can be introduced in our body which does not harm the body but helps us in some way. And what do you understand by the term microchip? A microchip is a tiny integrated circuit card. A microchip is a very small device which functions just like a computer. Now, an implantable microchip would be a small microchip that gets implanted in your body. These microchips provide one with a unique identity. A human microchip implant is any electronic device implanted subcutaneously (subdermally) usually via an injection. There are many examples of implantable microchips. The most widely used is a RFID.

A unique identity can be extracted from microelectronic tags affixed to items using radio frequency identification (RFID), a wireless technique that allows for automatic and unambiguous identification without a direct line of sight.For the purpose of identifying and tracking an object, the RFID technology employs radio waves to transmit data from an electronic tag called an RFID tag affixed to the object through a reader. In a catastrophe case, the RFID is already used to track and identify the casualties. The RFID allows for real-time data collection, fast access for emergency responders, and time savings. Data is accessible to crisis management teams, hospitals, and emergency workers via a computer databaseBy creating a safer healthcare system, medical errors could be avoided. RFID has recently been used in hospital administration. The RFID is useful for tracking patient locations in the hospital and instantly accessing patient information

History of Implantable Microchips

The history of implantable microchips dates back to 1998 when the first experiments with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) implant were carried out by the British scientist, Kevin Warwick. His implant was utilized to activate lights, unlock doors, and produce verbal output inside a structure. The implant was removed after nine days and is now kept in the London Science Museum. Further research in this field was carried forward by Nokia, Phillips and Sony in 2004 by implementation and promotion of NFC technology to ensure interoperability between devices and services. In 2018, VivoKey Technologies created the first human implantable NFC transponders that are cryptographically secure. Further advancement in the field happened in 2019 when MIT received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a vaccine and an invisible microneedle patch that can store digital medical information. More development happened when, Elon Musk, the CEO of Neuralink, unveiled a company-directed live video podcast on August 28, 2020, featuring a pig named Gertrude with a coin-sized computer chip in her brain to show off his bold aspirations to develop a functional brain-to-machine interface. Further development in the regards to implantable microchip continues. In fact there are many individuals who are using implantable microchips as well.

Types of Implantable Microchips

There are basically 3 types of implants

Types of Implantable Microchips
  • Brain implant - Brain implants, also known as Neural implants, are modern gadgets that are directly connected to the brains of biological subjects; they are typically implanted on the cortex or on the brain's surface. Establishing a biomedical prosthesis that avoids brain regions that have become dysfunctional due to a stroke or other head injuries is a common goal of contemporary brain implants and the subject of much recent study.

  • Skin implant - A skin implant is a prosthesis that is placed under the skin. There are two types of skin implants available. Namely : 

1. Dermal implant (on the skin): Invisible transdermal patch

2. Subdermal implants (under the skin): Bioglass-coated NFC chip injected under the skin.

  • Dental implant - A dental implant is a prosthesis that interfaces with the jawbone or skull to support a dental prosthesis, such as a crown, bridge, denture, or facial prosthesis, or to serve as an orthodontic anchor.

Advantages of Implantable Microchips

The widespread use of microchip technology has the potential to fundamentally alter the way that modern healthcare is delivered. The quality of life for patient populations will improve, therapeutic procedures will change, and wasteful costs amounting to billions of dollars will be saved. The position of microchips in medicine nowadays can be learned via a review of noteworthy patents, recent microchip developments, and clinically applicable uses, as well as by inspiring new research fields.There are many advantages of Implantable microchips. Few of these are mentioned below:

  • Implantable microchips can be used as a transdermal drug delivery system in which we can alter the rate at which the drug gets delivered to the patient. Drugs with dose administration methods that would normally be difficult or undesirable might be administered passively. Treatments for conditions requiring dose titrations, such as diabetes and hypertension, could be transformed to produce automated therapy regimens that are both safer and more effective. This controlled-release technique, when utilised with implants, will lessen the possibility of foreign body reactions and rejection, which will lessen the possibility of inflammation and pain and enable the body to recover from surgery more quickly.

  • Artificial glands could be made using microchip technology. Regulation of hormones in the body linked to malfunctioning glands may help control existing illness conditions and delay the advent of additional hormone-induced ailments.

  • Treatments for conditions that typically have a reduced rate of compliance (mental illnesses, some cancer therapies, long-term antibiotics, etc.) or misuse potential will benefit from the adoption of microchip delivery systems.

  • Implantable microchips are also used for digital identity. Using RFID, implantable microchips provide the individuals with a unique identity. This can be used to access a lot of things ranging from medical records to bank accounts. 

  • Other uses are in the form of address book, key cards, travel cards, credit cards, as well as for crypto transactions 

Disadvantages of Implantable Microchips

The small chips' supporters say that they are secure and largely immune to hacking, but experts are highlighting privacy issues because of the potential storage of sensitive personal health information. Not just security, but implantable microchips also have serious health hazards associated with them. How would you react if you got to know the small chip that you got injected under your skin, not just poses a threat to your social identity but might also kill you? Won't you be scared? Here are some disadvantages of implantable microchips.

  • Implantable microchips may result in infections that are potentially fatal due to faulty implantation procedures, implant rejections, or implant element degradation.

  • They also pose a serious threat to your safety and security as just by hacking a small chip someone can get his hands on data that can be crucial for you. This data can be anything ranging from medical records to bank details.

  • Veterinary and toxicological studies conducted between 1996 and 2006 show that dogs implanted with identification microchips occasionally developed cancerous tumours at the injection site and lab rodents injected with microchips as an incidental part of unrelated experiments occasionally developed cancerous tumours, according to anti-RFID advocate Katherine Albrecht, who refers to RFID devices as "spy chips" in a self-published report

  • Governments could deploy invasive technology to establish a "Orwellian" digital dystopia. Self-determination, freedom of thought, and all other forms of personal autonomy would be utterly lost in such a society; people would effectively be digital slaves to the governments, businesses, or networks that controlled the microchipping technology.

Take-Home Points

  • Implantable microchips are small chips that are planted in your body. These aid many functions of the body as well as provide you with various other powers.

  • There are 3 types of implants.

  • These implants have various advantages and disadvantages. 


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