By JoAnn Kohlbrand and Julie Foster
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
A working prototype of an implant designed to monitor the physiology and whereabouts of human wearers, known as Digital Angel®, is scheduled to be unveiled in October at an invitation-only event in New York City -- two months ahead of schedule.
Developed by Applied Digital Solutions, the device is said to be the first-ever operational combination of bio-sensor technology and Web-enabled wireless telecommunications linked to global positioning satellite location-tracking systems.
Applied Digital Solutions Chairman Richard Sullivan said the development of the technology has progressed well ahead of schedule.
"We're extremely heartened by the remarkable progress made by Dr. Peter Zhou and his entire research team, including professors and their associates at Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology," said Sullivan. "This technology relates directly to the exploding wireless marketplace. We'll be demonstrating for the first time ever that wireless telecommunications systems and bio-sensor devices -- capable of measuring and transmitting critical body function data -- can be successfully linked together with GPS (global positioning satellite) technology and integrated with the Internet."
As previously reported in WorldNetDaily, Digital Angel® is intended to serve a number of functions. In addition to locating missing persons and monitoring physiological data, the device will be marketed to the world of e-commerce as a means of verifying online consumer identity.
Similar to microchip technologies currently used as electronic ID tags for pets, Digital Angel® is a dime-sized implant, inserted just under the skin. When implanted within a human body, the device is powered electromechanically through the movement of muscles and can be activated either by the "wearer" or by a monitoring facility.
Applied Digital Solutions is also exploring avenues for utilizing Digital Angel® without implanting it.
"We are currently talking to a watch maker who is interested in placing the device on the back of their watches," Sullivan told WorldNetDaily. "In addition, technology is being developed that would allow Digital Angel® to function from the back of a cellular phone, transmitting bio-sensor information when carried by the user."
While estimates of Digital Angel®'s marketplace potential vary, Sullivan and Applied Digital's partners believe they can enter the implant into a multi-billion dollar market through various licensing arrangements, Web-enabled wireless services and data transactions handled by Applied Digital's Application Service Provider center.
Those attending the event in New York City will see a working, multimedia demonstration of the implant. A miniature sensor device -- smaller than a grain of rice and equipped with a tiny antenna -- will capture and wirelessly transmit a person's vital body-function data, such as body temperature or pulse, to an Internet-integrated ground station. In addition, the antenna will also receive information regarding the location of the individual from the GPS satellite. Both sets of data -- medical information and location -- will then be wirelessly transmitted to the ground station and made available on Web-enabled desktop, laptop or wireless devices.
According to Applied Digital, the demonstration will represent the first time these technologies have been united into one functioning system.
The New York event -- at a time, date and location to be announced later -- will feature live presentations from top Applied Digital executives, including Sullivan and Dr. Peter Zhou, president and chief scientist at DigitalAngel.net, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Applied Digital. Attendees at the device's unveiling ceremony will include a handpicked group of potential joint-venture partners, as well as senior-level players in the e-commerce, wireless and Internet industries, and stock analysts.
Zhou is passionately enthusiastic about the device.
"I'm particularly excited about Digital Angel®'s ability to save lives by remotely monitoring the medical conditions of at-risk patients and providing emergency rescue units with the person's exact location," he said. "I also see great potential for Digital Angel® in the area of 'location-aware' e-commerce. This is a whole new wireless and Web-enabled frontier in which a purchaser's actual location is integral to making a successful sale or providing a valuable, location-critical service."
In an exclusive interview with WorldNetDaily in March, Zhou expressed his belief that the implant will be as popular as cell phones and vaccines.
Digital Angel®, said Zhou, "will be a connection from yourself to the electronic world. It will be your guardian, protector. It will bring good things to you."
He added, "We will be a hybrid of electronic intelligence and our own soul."
Applied Digital Solutions first announced it had acquired the patent rights to a miniature digital transceiver in December 1999. Naming the device Digital Angel®, ADS formed DigitalAngel.net, Inc. to serve as the research and development unit for the device. Since that time, ADS has actively promoted the implant, pointing to what executives and scientists say are lifestyle benefits of the chip.
"The first market we hope to tap into is a $10 billion agri-industry," said Sullivan. "The FDA is requiring improved tracking methods for beef and poultry. The Digital Angel®, with its ability to monitor body functions, can track quality from the [animal] pens to the supermarket."
The next large market ADS hopes to tap into is that of preventive medical tracking. Through its body function tracking capabilities, the Digital Angel® can monitor such functions as body temperature, heartbeat and specific needs such as insulin levels. This information can then be transmitted to a doctor or health-care provider.
"The Digital Angel® serves as an advance warning device, which can help lower the cost of medical care," commented Sullivan.
However, despite the excitement over an early working model of this new technology, concerns have been raised as to personal privacy. With the integrated technology, a person's location, health status and other personal data will be transmitted and available via the Internet.
ADS claims, however, that privacy concerns are misplaced, since the device can be turned off by the owner.
Additional concerns have been raised by Christians, who contend Digital Angel® could be the fulfillment of a biblical prediction found in the book of Revelation.
Zhou, president of DigitalAngel.net, Inc., disagrees.
"I am a Christian, but I don't think [that argument] makes sense," he told WND in March. "The purpose of the device is to save your life and improve the quality of life. There's no connection to the Bible."
As the technology becomes more commonplace, the debate, as well as sales, are likely to continue growing.
"We'll soon be ready to move ahead to the production-design phase of Digital Angel® geared to specific marketplace applications," Sullivan said. "The key message right now is this: Digital Angel® isn't a blue-sky technology. This is real. Digital Angel® breakthrough technology is here. It's live!"