Science & tech

Biohacking implants – how should they be regulated?

As the implant market expands and new innovations become a reality, the challenge of regulating these new technologies is getting harder. With biohacking implants already being performed in tattoo studios, how will regulators ensure the safety of patients? Abi Millar reports. 

In 2016, entrepreneur Steven Northam had a radiofrequency identification (RFID) implant placed in his left hand. The chip, which enabled him to open his office door simply by waving his hand, gave him the inspiration for what would become BioTeq.

“I did it for a bit of fun really – a quirky party trick,” he says. “My main business interest is in startup investments, so it was clear that the idea of fitting a microchip in my hand was going to turn into a business.”

A human biotech implant company based in Hampshire, UK, BioTeq now provides implants not just for door entry systems, but also for storing data (like a digital business card). Northam says the customer base is wide and varied.

“It ranges from those who just love tech to those who feel it provides them with some sort of benefit or convenience,” he says.

Beyond that, the company is making inroads into the realm of assistive technology, for instance helping disabled people enter their homes. It is also looking to create chips for visually impaired people, which trigger audible or touch sensory cues, and implantable GPS trackers for those with learning disabilities.

Read the rest of this article in the January 2020 edition of Medical Technology

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