Biohacking is a term used to describe augmenting the human body using technology, including magnets, microchips or electronic devices.
By implanting technology under the skin, biohacking aims to help people better interact with the world around us.
Improvements in biohacking capabilities are said to be bridging the gap between Tech and futurism. With the ability to upgrade our bodies, could biohacking be a step towards cyborg technology?
How Does It Work?
Recently, the market has seen a considerable increase in the number of people interested in biohacking. Biohacking can be seen in many forms of biological experimentation. The method currently on the rise is the implantation of programmable microchips, about the size of a grain of rice, into the hand. Practitioners insert the chip through a large needle about one centimetre and a half under the skin. The chips, made out of bioglass, are stronger than bone.
Currently, the microchips can store business cards, contact information and websites, accessible instantly by scanning with a phone. Chips can also be used to make payments, store medical data and even start your car. Those over the age of 18 can undergo the 3 minute procedure, but some might reject the chip or experience irritation for up to two years. UK implant provider BioTeq offers the procedure for £134.95 for a RFID implant or £164.95 for an NFC implant.
BioTeq is the UK’s leading human technology implant specialist, founded by Steven Northam in 2016. The entrepreneur started the company after having his own implant placed in his hand, allowing him to open his office door. While the company was initially based on this novelty and love of tech, BioTeq also works towards creating assistive technology. This includes helping disabled people enter their homes, chips for the visually impaired, and GPS trackers for those with learning disabilities. Northam recognises the controversial nature of his enterprise. He states “The ethical debate here is quite complex, given the need for consent and who can give this in certain instances. Our stance is that if it improves someone’s wellbeing and day-to-day life, then it’s a good thing. These devices are already in use in the market, and a range of further developments will be released in 2020.”
Those in the industry speculate that biohacking will soon become an important part of day-to-day life and compare the intrusive technology to mobile phones.
Does Biohacking Need Regulation?
If biohacking is to become an integrated part of our society, one cannot help but worry about what might be achieved if these chips were exploited. Biotechnology innovations must be regulated to ensure safety.
Current UK law does not directly cover this use of microchipping. In parts of the US including Wisconsin, North Dakota and California, bills have been issued making it illegal to force a person to have a microchip implanted. In the UK, biohacking devices are not classed as having a medical purpose and are therefore under no regulation. Companies such as Biotech take caution in these procedures, administering them under local anaesthetic with a medical doctor. However, many are entering tattoo studios to have their implants which could pose a higher risk.
Those in the biotechnology industry widely agree that a call for regulation is imminent but likely to be a slow process, perhaps taking years to be agreed upon.
To learn more about getting a microchip implant see: https://www.bioteq.co.uk/index.php