While gun control is on everyone's minds, chip maker Microchip Technology has just announced a new type of technology that could be part of the solution.
Called BodyCom, the technology requires three things: a device (such as a gun or other gadget), a human body, and a pocket-sized fob that signals to the device through the carrier's body that he or she is authorized to use it.
Already, an Italian company is using the technology to ensure that motorcyclists ride with a helmet. The helmet contains the fob, and that conducts the signal through the rider's body, to the handlebars, which then allow the motorcycle to start up.
Edward Dias, Microchip’s security business development manager, acknowledged to MIT Technology Review that the technology was not entirely new -- using the body to transmit data between devices was described in Thomas Zimmerman's 1980 MIT thesis -- but Dias said Microchip's authentication method is cheaper, simpler and usually less power-intensive than other similar technologies. It costs about $4 to add the technology to a device.
Other possible applications for the technology include being able to unlock one's front door just by touching the doorknob, or for allowing pets wearing a fob on a collar to enter the house through a doggy door that would remain shut for other unwanted animals.
So far the main drawback is that the technology doesn't know whether the person holding the fob is one who should be given access. But Dias says Microchip could later add that capability.
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photo: Courtesy Microchip Technology