AS a child watching films like the Matrix, Terminator and Star Wars, Shanti Korporaal used to dream of having superpowers.

Now she has taken a step into the future by having microchips inserted under her skin so she can open doors with just a wave of her hand.

The 27-year-old Australian is part of what has been dubbed the rise of the superhumans – people aiming to harness the powers of a Jedi with the aid of modern technology.

She is at the centre of a phenomenon spreading across the world where humans can gain access to their computer, car, office or house because of microchip implants.

The only downside for Korporaal so far has been the disapproval of Christian fundamentalists who harass her on social media by telling her she is going to hell because she has the “Mark of the Beast”.

In the main, though, her friends and family have been envious of the fact she no longer has to hunt for any keys.

“My nana wants one,” said Korporaal. “I’ve had more opposition to my tattoos than I’ve ever had to the chip. My friends are jealous.”


REALISING the potential, Korporaal and her husband Skeeve Stevens have set up a distribution service for the technology called Chip My Life.

Doctors charge £86 to insert the implant which takes seconds and only requires a touch of anesthetic. The chips themselves cost between £46 and £80 depending on how sophisticated they are.

“They give you a local, an injection and a quick ultrasound to make sure it’s in place. It’s a really simple, two-second procedure,” she said. “It’s in-and-out, in terms of the needle.”

The biohacking pair both have near-field communication chips (NFCs) in their right hands and radio-frequency identification chips (RFIDs) in their left hands. The microchips are contained in tiny silicate glass capsules the size of rice grains.

The ones on the left act like keys to open doors while the ones on the right store contact and health data. Once implanted they cannot be seen although it is possible to feel a small, hard lump.

The NFC chip is the same type used by Apple Pay systems and the goal is to use their right hands instead of credit cards and cash.

“You could set up your life so you never have to worry about any password or PINs,” said Korporaal.

“It’s the same technology as Paypass, so I’m hoping you’ll be able to pay for things with it.

“With Opal you get a unique identification number that could be programmed into the chip. Any door with a swipe card... it could open your computer, photocopier. Loyalty cards for shops are just another thing for your wallet.”


THE Australian pair are not the only ones to try out the technology. The first reported experiments were made by British scientist Kevin Warwick who, in 1998, used an implant to switch on lights and open doors. The implant was removed after nine days and is now housed in London’s Science Museum.

American Amal Graafstra has since become one of the most well-known RFID implantees in the world. He had implants in 2005 and hit the headlines last week with his prototype of the planet’s first implant-activated smart gun. He has an online store Called Dangerous Things which sells RFID chips to those who wish to “upgrade their bodies”.

“On a psychological level, this is completely different to a smartphone or a Fitbit, because it goes in you,” he said. “It’s given me the ability to communicate with machines. It’s literally integrated into who I am.”

Graafstra acknowledges security and ethical concerns but argues that the data is encrypted while credit and debit cards are increasingly insecure.

Looking ahead he wants to make sure the rights of microchip implantees are enshrined in law.

Any attempt to extract them without the owner’s permission should be classified as assault, he says.


IN 2009, British scientist Mark Gasson made history by becoming the first human to be infected by a computer virus after he had an RFID implanted in his left hand. His team proved a computer virus could wirelessly infect his implant and then be transferred to other systems. Gasson said the experiment showed that the separation between man and machine could become theoretical with implant technology.

At the Epicenter, a new hi-tech office block in Sweden, the 700 employees are being offered the chance to have implants in order to pay for lunch, open doors and operate copiers.

The chips are the brainchild of Swedish bio-hacker Hannes Sjoblad, who has been organising “implant parties” where volunteers can be micro-chipped.

“We want to be able to understand this technology before big corporates and big government come to us and say everyone should get chipped – the tax authority chip, the Google or Facebook chip,” he said.

In theory a chip with GPS could make it possible for people to be located more easily but while this might be handy in search and rescue operations in Scottish mountains there are fears the technology could lead to political repression or that they could be used by criminals to locate and keep hold of their victims.

Anti-RFID protesters also believe they could cause cancer after lab rodents injected with microchips developed tumours at the injection site.

These worries are of no concern to Korporaal.

“Ever since watching movies like the Terminator, Matrix and Minority Report I wondered if we could actually live like that,” she said. “I always wondered why we all weren’t living as ‘superhumans’.”