TECHNOLOGY

DSruptive’s human chip implants can give millions of people direct access to their health data

Additionally, Managing Director Hannes Sjöblad uses his own implanted chip to have direct access to his COVID-19 passport anytime, anywhere.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
January 18, 2022

This year, Elon Musk has said that Neuralink, his neurotechnology company developing implantable brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) will start implanting chips into paralysis patients’ brains to help restore their functionality. In Scandinavia in recent years, deeptech company DSruptive has already inserted electronic implants in several thousand users.

— We have long experience from the human implant industry with expertise in technology, business, service design, and medical aspects of subdermal implants, Hannes Sjöblad tells.

He and his co-founders met in 2015. They were inspired by the simplicity and versatility of implant technology and decided to improve it into a convenient health-logging tool. 

— Our vision is to empower millions of people to get direct access to their own health data via implants, he says.

Tell us about your chip and the technology behind it.

— We aim to enable safe, cheap, and easy reading of vital parameters in any setting. Implantable tech has some great advantages: unlike gear you have in your handbag, in your pockets, or around your wrist, implants can never be lost. This means they can be used to replace, for example, badges, swipe cards, and most importantly, health wearables. Our implants are tiny, sensor-equipped glass capsules that are injected under the skin. The procedure is quick and comparatively painless. The implants are passive devices, which means that they don’t have batteries but are activated via the NFC antenna of a smartphone. They cannot emit or receive information unless they are activated with a specific phone which is paired with the implant. The implants have a very long lifetime and unlike wearables, you don’t need to change them every couple of years. Finally, implants are easy to remove should a user wish to do so. 

What do you say to those being skeptical of your technology? 

— We are fundamentally aware that our technology is controversial to some. At the same time, many of the views we encounter are based on a misunderstanding of how implants really function,  which is why we think it is important to be part of the public conversation. Recognising that the technology we work with raises questions, we apply high ethical standards in everything we do. Our technology is CE-marked and ISO-certified and its use is validated by independent researchers. Our data protection regime is rigorous and we have an external DPO (Data Protection Officer, Ed’s note). We are against compulsory or forced implantation in any shape or form. Implants should be acquired by active personal choice based on informed consent. Our key priority is the freedom, integrity, and safety of our users, Sjöblad states.

Since implants can be used for a myriad of applications, DSruptive’s business has a B2B2C focus, working with different partners to explore different uses. 

— In the near future, it will be possible for end-users to purchase implants from our different partners and distributors. The key uses we see for our main product, the BeUno temperature sensor implant, are in the fields of fertility planning and fever monitoring. The implants are particularly useful under field conditions where wearables systems are unwieldy. 

In these times, in the middle of a pandemic, Sjöblad has found a natural use for his own chip, which is implanted in his arm. He’s programmed it to have his COVID-19 passport on the chip — accessible anytime, anywhere, swiping his own phone on it to see it unlock and opens up.

— However, the real value of implant tech lies not in adding documents to them, but to use it for collecting health data, he clarifies.

As mentioned, the BeUno temperature sensor implant will be available for purchase later in 2022, followed by more sophisticated devices with additional sensors. 

— We are spearheading a new step in human healthcare, and it is both humbling and inspiring. We are convinced that our implants can be a key enabler of three emerging health paradigms: remote monitoring, personalised medicine, and preventative health. And we are completely convinced that a generation from now, having a health sensor implant will be the norm, not the exception, Sjöblad concludes.

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