Implantable VeriChip, about the size of a grain of rice.

Applied Digital Solutions, a technology development company, yesterday said it has created and successfully field-tested a prototype of a GPS implant for humans.

The dimensions of this initial “personal location device,” or PLD, prototype are said to be 2.5 inches in diameter by 0.5 inches in depth, roughly the size of a pacemaker. Once inserted into a human, the device can be tracked by Global Positioning Satellite technology and the information relayed wirelessly to the Internet, where an individual’s location, movements and vital signs can be stored in a database for future reference.

Dr. Peter Zhou, vice president and chief scientist of Applied Digital Solutions, said: “We’re very encouraged by the successful field testing and follow-up laboratory testing of this working PLD prototype. The specially designed antenna is working as planned. While reaching the working prototype stage represents a significant advancement in the development of PLD, we continue to pursue further enhancements, especially with regard to miniaturization and the power supply. We should be able to reduce the size of the device dramatically before the end of this year.”

The induction-based power-recharging method is similar to that used to recharge implantable pacemakers, the company said. This recharging technique functions without requiring any physical connection between the power source and the implant.

As the process of miniaturization proceeds in the coming months, the company said it expects to be able to shrink the size of the device to at least one-half and perhaps to as little as one-tenth the current size.

Applied said the technology it used for the device builds on U.S. Patent No. 5,629,678 for a “personal tracking and recovery system,” which Applied Digital acquired in 1999.

At the time Applied obtained the patent, it named the technology “Digital Angel” and announced that a prototype would be unveiled in October of 2000.

Closer to a cashless society?

The company proceeded to issue the technology in the form of a wristwatch and pager, and following privacy concerns and verbal protests over marketing the technology for government use, Applied backed away from public discussion about such implants and the possibility of using them to usher in a “cashless society.”

In addition, to quell privacy concerns, the company issued numerous denials, stating it had no plans to release such an implant.

When WND reported in April of 2002 that the company planned such implant technology, Applied Digital spokesman Matthew Cossolotto accused WND of intentionally printing falsehoods.

Less than three weeks later, the company issued a press release announcing that it was accelerating development on a GPS implant.

Nathan Cochrane, deputy technology editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, who has followed the development of the chip closely, was highly critical of the company’s denials and wrote the following in a message to readers of Declan McCullagh’s moderated “Politech” mailing list: “I think ADS’s bald-faced lies to you and the members of your list about its plans in the past should send off warning flares about its intentions and the ethical foundation of its culture. Given concerns recently over corporate governance among businesses, ADS needs to answer its critics.

Citing the concerns voiced by privacy advocates that government use of such devices could lead to “function creep,” Cochrane added, “How much longer before implants are mandatory by law for all American citizens, and those in the rest of the world?”

Last week, the St. Paul/Minneapolis Business Journal reported that spokesman Cossolotto stated, “There has been a lot of interest in the devices, but that Digital Angel still needs to do more to get the public used to what they can accomplish.”

The exact timing of commercial availability of PLD is unclear pending further technological “refinements” and achieving any required regulatory clearances.

Despite financial struggles, Applied appears determined to recover and reach its long-term goals of bringing its revolutionary tracking and identification concepts and implants to market.

Last week, Applied announced it had signed securities purchase agreements to sell 25 million previously registered shares, the proceeds of which will go toward paying off its debt to IBM Credit LLC.

Under a forbearance agreement reached with IBM Credit, the company had been given the opportunity to clear its approximate $95 million in debt with a $30 million payment. The payment needs to be made by June 30. If the payment is made on or before the given date, Applied Digital will be considered to have satisfied its obligations to IBM in full, according to the company.

Applied also markets the implantable VeriChip, a radio frequency identification chip that can carry an individual’s unique identification number as well as store personal data. In addition, the company recently unveiled in London its new Bio-Thermo chip implant, which can read and transmit a person’s temperature and has numerous health-care applications.

In the works are other chips that can carry technology that identifies blood pressure, disease and hormonal levels.

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