Automated Car Starting at the Wave of a Hand

By Rich Handley

A Tesla owner has implanted an NFC chip into his hand, enabling him to lock and unlock his vehicle without having to carry a key, card or fob.

In a recent editorial, I discussed how RFID and Internet of Things technologies have implications far and wide, and how users can have fun with IoT-based solutions if they think outside the box (see RFID Use Is Limited Only by Imagination). That editorial explored several fascinating examples of how biohackers have made life easier for themselves by altering their bodies with technology to, as Vox explained in this 2019 article, "manipulate [their] brain and body in order to optimize performance, outside the realm of traditional medicine."

Rich HandleyThis morning, I came across another example in an article published by NDTV. As writer Bhavya Sukheja explained, Tesla owner Brandon Dalaly has inserted a VivoKey Apex chip, which employs Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, into the back of his hand, enabling him to lock and unlock his vehicle merely by waving it near the door (see Tesla Owner Implants Tiny Chip Into His Hand To Unlock Vehicle). Dalaly is part of a beta group of approximately 100 people currently testing the chips before they are made commercially available to the public.

Dalaly posted a video of the procedure, carried out by a professional piercer, and of himself using the technology, on his Twitter page. As he noted in responses to curious followers, he'll be able to continue using the chip even if he eventually replaces his car with a new one. "The chip is not tied to just one car," he explained. "It can pair to any future Tesla that would use key cards. Also, the chip does more than just work with Teslas; it's just one function I'm using it for."

The chip can be paired to any Tesla vehicle that uses a card, Dalaly said, as well as store data. It can provide access control, one-time password and two-factor authentication, and secure crypto wallet, in addition to eventually enabling credit card transactions. "The Tesla key is just an app that was installed on it," he said. "It's perfect for me because my phone's Bluetooth power management is so aggressive my phone key only works half the time."

According to an interview posted at Teslarati (see Tesla Owner Implants a Chip to Unlock His Car and More), this is not Dalaly's first implanted chip. Another one already serves as his house key and provides access to his portfolio, contact card, medical information, COVID-19 vaccination record and other data. "The whole idea was that I would have my house key in my left hand and my car key in my right hand," Dalaly told writer Johnna Crider. "And then what's really cool is when it's approved, they can wirelessly activate the new chip I just got to do credit card transactions. I can link a credit card to it and I can use it anywhere where there are tap-to-pay terminals."

Image: Brandon Dalaly

Image: Brandon Dalaly

As Dalaly told Crider, "We're at the dawn of this technology, and it's a very niche product, and there's been a lot of pushback. People thought that Bill Gates was putting tracking chips in the COVID vaccine. It fuels a lot of conspiracy theories." The procedure was relatively inexpensive and did not cause much discomfort, he indicated, and it has made Dalaly's daily life easier and a bit more unique. The only side effects he's noticed have been "some pretty colorful Twitter comments."

These have included a person melodramatically calling his innovative use of technology "one step closer to Big Brother," as well as others irrationally comparing RFID to the biblical Mark of the Beast (a fear RFID Journal used to hear decades ago, which thankfully subsided as time passed and as common sense prevailed) and even claiming Dalaly is somehow trying to act like a god by starting his Tesla more quickly. But the biohacker has taken it all in good stride, quipping "You legit think because I can open my car with my hand, I'm some sort of evil wizard that will bring the End of Days to us all?? That's pretty dope actually."

Rich Handley has been the managing editor of RFID Journal since 2005. Outside the RFID world, Rich has authored, edited or contributed to numerous books about pop culture. You can contact Rich via email.