Vanilla Brief Director Ben Slater’s LinkedIn page page says that he is summed up by the Jimi Hendrix quote: “All I’m gonna do is go just on and do what I feel”. And what he feels like at the moment is having a chip implanted into his hand.
As part of an experiment to gauge the utility and efficacy of the technology, Slater has had an NFC-enabled RFID chip inserted into his left hand.
So why is the Kiwi-born ad man leaping straight into an Orwellian nightmare?
“Why not?” he jokes. “It’s one of those things we’ve heard about for a while, and this is primarily to prove that it can be done. It’s the next stage of wearables.”
He says there are “about half a dozen people on this side of the world” who have had comparable chips implanted into their hands, but adds they are all interested or involved in the tech industry.
“I don’t see ad people doing this. And yet this is the type of technology that may be commonplace in the not too distant future.”
He says that since consumers tend to be early adopters of technology, it’s important for marketers to familiarise themselves with the technology that is likely to be popular in the future.
“In this day and age, a trial or prototype can be released really quickly … If I had told people even a year ago that I was implanting a chip into my hand, they’d have thought I was mad.”
And Slater’s early adoption of implantable tech also seems have paid off from a Vanilla Brief marketing perspective, with various publications, including Ad News Australia, picking up the story.
Given how novel the technology is, he says that people he encounters often question the veracity of the claim that he has a microchip, comparable to those used in pets, inserted into his hand.
“Recently, when I told a barista at coffee shop about it, he didn’t believe me, so I asked him to pass his phone to me. With a simple wave over my hand, all my contact details were transferred onto his phone. His mind was blown.”
In addition to sharing such information, the chip is also loaded with Bitcoin data, which in turn lends itself to the future possibility of paying with the wave of a hand.
Despite being an aficionado of various tech innovations, Slater concedes that they aren’t without their perils.
“A few weeks ago, I went for a run here in Sydney and accidently switched my Jawbone into sleep mode. When I got back home, I had voice message from my wife in New Zealand complaining that all the lights in the house went out during dinner.”
And while Slater’s implantation tends more toward the whimsical, he also currently involved in a not-for-profit project with GB Orthopedics to produce a 3D printed prosthetic for a young boy who was born without a hand.
“The first fitting is happening in about two weeks, and it’s great because he will be able to shake hands with his dad. He originally wanted a World of Warcraft sword, but I think we’ll just start with the hand and see where it goes from there.”
Slater says that the great benefit about this is that it’s so much more affordable than the standard options currently available.
“A prosthetic hand would normally cost about $50,000 dollars, but this technology enables us to do it at only $200 in materials and with about 100 man-hours.”