VeriChip launches secure database to consult health care data stored on implantable RFID chips

Palm Beach, Boston 09 April 2002Applied Digital Solutions' wholly owned subsidiary, VeriChip, has selected May 1, 2002, for the launch of its new Global VeriChip Subscriber (GVS) Registry service. This programme will enable VeriChip subscribers to store pertinent personal verification and health care information in the company's secure database. In addition, Digital Angel Corporation has entered into a product and technology licensing agreement that makes available its proprietary, implantable microchips, scanners, and delivery system, including its state-of-the-art, FDA-compliant physician call centre, to VeriChip.

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VeriChip is a miniaturised, implantable, radio frequency identification device (RFID) which can be used in a variety of security, emergency, and health care applications. About the size of a grain of rice, each VeriChip is composed of FDA-accepted materials and contains a unique verification number which can seamlessly integrate to the GVS Registry. The GVS Registry is hosted and maintained by Digital Angel Corporation's state-of-the-art, FDA-compliant, 24/7 physician-staffed operations centre in Owings, Maryland.

The verification number is captured by briefly passing a proprietary, external scanner over the VeriChip. A small amount of radio frequency energy passes through the skin energising the dormant VeriChip, which then emits a radio frequency signal transmitting the verification number. The future integration with the GVS Registry's database can take place wirelessly by means of a Digital Angel-licensed scanner, linked to a PDA or enhanced by Digital Angel-based Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology.

Information provided by the subscriber will be stored in the GVS Registry database. Only information authorised by the subscriber will be available for access via VeriChip's proprietary scanner. Instant access to such vital information as allergies to medications, medical device implants, pre-existing medical conditions, and emergency contact numbers could save lives in an emergency and enhance the peace of mind of subscribers and their family.

GVS Registry participants will pay a monthly subscription fee, enabling them to include and change pertinent information in the secure GVS Registry database. Associate Registry subscribers such as health care clinics, hospitals, search and rescue units, and EMTs will be able to use proprietary VeriChip scanners to read a subscriber's VeriChip and gain access to the subscriber's Registry information if authorised to do so by the subscriber.

Scott R. Silverman, President of Applied Digital Solutions, stated: "As VeriChip becomes the standard in emergency information and verification applications, we anticipate a rapid growth pattern in an estimated market that exceeds $15 billion. From a business view, the GVS Registry will provide a recurring revenue stream for both Applied Digital and Digital Angel Corporation. As the beneficial owner of approximately 82% of Digital Angel Corporation, we remain committed to enhancing the value of both companies through joint sales, marketing, and technology efforts. The GVS Registry is the first example of how all Applied Digital-related companies will continue to integrate and grow."

On April 4, 2002, Applied Digital Solutions has received written guidance that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not consider VeriChip's personal verification technology to be a regulated medical device. This clears the way for the sales, marketing, and distribution of Digital Angel Corporation technology licensed to VeriChip Corporation in the United States.

Digital Angel Corporation was formed on March 27, 2002, in a merger between Digital Angel Corporation and Medical Advisory Systems, which is specialised in telemedicine. Prior to the merger, Digital Angel Corporation was a wholly owned subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions. Digital Angel technology represents the first-ever combination of advanced biosensors and Web-enabled wireless telecommunications linked to GPS. By utilising advanced biosensor capabilities, Digital Angel is able to monitor key body functions, such as temperature and pulse, and transmit that data, along with accurate emergency location information, to a ground station or monitoring facility.

There is a issue however that has not yet been raised in the current exploration of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips that can be implanted into humans for the purpose of tracking and storing personal or medical information, namely the security for these chips.

The implantable chip uses radio waves for tracking objects via chips and scanners but most RFID chips are fundamentally insecure, protected by rudimentary technology such as passwords. If implanted, these chips lack any sound means of preventing the compromise of sensitive information. If an unscrupulous person has a scanner and can crack a password, he can access all of the information stored on a chip. No person would want anyone walking down the street with a scanner to know his or her medical history, but that could well be the case. For RFID to work in a human identification scenario, strong security is essential.

RFID applications need to support a "trusted environment" by guaranteeing confidentiality, authentication, integrity, and non-repudiation to ensure that RFID data transmissions are not intercepted, corrupted or replicated. Semiconductor manufacturers need to seek out powerful new security technologies to embed in their chips. Companies like Atmel and INSIDE are currently leading the way in that initiative. NTRU, a Massachusetts-based cryptography provider, can offer practical, powerful, small and cost-effective security for RFID. Its security is based on the most fundamental innovation in cryptography in 20 years. Recently, the company introduced its RFID technology, called GenuID.


Leslie Versweyveld

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