Several companies are currently beta-testing a radio frequency identification system from Microchip Technology that uses the human body as a conduit for transmissions between an interrogator and a tag. Microchip’s platform, known as BodyCom, can be utilized to control access to a building, or to control the usage of a device, such as a computer or a weapon. The companies, located in various parts of the world, are testing ways in which to integrate the technology into their own solutions, such as keyless vehicle-entry systems.
While traditional RFID systems transmit data through the air, simply requiring a tag or a receiving unit to come within transmission range of an interrogator, the BodyCom solution requires that both tag and interrogator be within close proximity to a person’s body. By leveraging the body to transmit a signal, BodyCom does not need as much power, nor does it require a conventional RFID reader antenna, according to Edward Dias, the embedded-security business-development manager of Microchip’s MCU8 (8-bit microcontroller) division. This would mean the battery life of a device such as a remote control or an ID tag would be longer, he explains, and that the transmission itself would be more secure, since there would be no over-the-air RF signals that could be intercepted.