|Chip implants 'become part of you'
Australian IT 09/10/02: Barbara Gengler
Original Link: http://australianit.news.com.au/articles/0,7204,5051110%5E15397%5E%5Enbv%5E,00.html
A FLORIDA family of three, among the first recipients of a microchip under their skins, have found themselves at the centre of a media whirlwind ever since they were chipped on May 10.
Medical device maker Applied Digital Solutions designed the chip about the size of a grain of rice, called the VeriChip.
It stores about a paragraph of information that can be read by a palm-sized scanning device outside the body.
Along with Leslie and Jeff Jacobs and their 14-year-old son Derek, six other people have been implanted with the VeriChip.
One is an Alzheimer's patient and four are company executives, including Applied Digital's Nate Isaacson, and an outside consultant and spokesman, Matthew Cossolotto, who is president of Ovations International, a public relations company.
The Jacobs family was motivated by the poor health of Jeff, the father, whose complicated medical history includes Hodgkin's disease - a cancer of the lymph system - spinal problems and cataracts.
One of the family's biggest worries is that Jeff could become sick and unable to speak in an emergency.
Leslie Jacobs says the tiny computer chip has eased those fears. Derek also wanted to be the first child to be chipped, she says.
"But in the practical sense, my son wanted to save his dad's life," she says. "For us it was a very simple procedure that took only seven seconds."
Leslie says it was just as if she had a cavity or a filling and wanted to play with it for the first day. "Then, after that, it becomes a part of you."
She says the only time it makes a difference is when the family is close to a scanner.
"It's kind of like you're at the supermarket and they take the scanner out and your name and information comes up," she says.
"That's the reality of it because every day you just do your own thing and you don't really know it's there until you're scanned."
Leslie says no-one uses the system unless they feel it's useful and can help save lives.
"I never cared that there were pacemakers out there or artificial limbs, but if I were going to die because my heart wouldn't work or I wouldn't be able to walk, I'd definitely look into this technology," she says.
Leslie says the reaction has been amazing and very positive because "people find out we're just a normal family. We go to work, we go to school and we do our own thing."
The chip is so small she does not even know it's there.
"I know where it is because it's between two freckles on my right arm," she says.
Another chip recipient, Cossolotto, says he has the chip in the same place as Leslie.
"It has life-saving potential and it's not much different in principle from devices currently available from the market, such as medic-alert bracelets," he says.
"The only difference is this is under the skin and links electronically and wirelessly to databases."
Cossolotto says he was surprised how painless it was and he did not know it the implant had been completed until the doctor told him.
"I was kind of looking for a lollipop," he quips.
Cossolotto says the information is supplied by the subscriber and not the company.
After the first chipping had been completed, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Applied Digital the green light on the chip.
It later decided to take another look to rule on whether the chip should be considered a regulated medical device.
Cossolotto expects to hear soon from the FDA about the clarification, which affects plans to market the device.
While waiting for the results from the FDA, legal and financial woes have hit the company.
It relisted on the Nasdaq National Market on July 31 and has until October 25 to satisfy continued listing criteria.