Mexicans Use Tracking Devices to Thwart Kidnappers

Monday, 22 Aug 2011 12:21 PM

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Wealthy Mexicans fearing kidnappers are spending thousands to have tracking devices implanted under their skin. However, scientists maintain the devices don’t work, The Washington Post reported.
The radio-frequency identification chip (RFID) is a small antenna in a glass tube about a half-inch long that sends a signal to a Global Positioning System (GPS) the size of a cellphone. Should the client be stripped of the GPS device, companies maintain they can send a signal to the implant and locate the person, the Post reported

However, RFID researchers and engineers in the United States said a device that could communicate with satellites or a local cellular network would need a battery and antenna the size of a cellphone. “It’s nonsense,” Mark Corner, an RFID researcher and computer science professor at the University of Massachusetts, told the Post.

Justin Patton, managing director of the University of Arkansas RFID Research Center, developing such a device is far in the future.

“There’s no way in the world something that size can communicate with a satellite,” Patton told the Post. “I have expensive systems with batteries on board, and even they can’t be read from a distance greater than a couple hundred meters, with no interference in the way.”

Nonetheless, Mexican companies report implanting thousands of the devices for $2,000 and an annual fee of another $2,000. Other companies are selling GPS devices that can fit on a key chain that have panic buttons, but experts also caution about their viability.

A GPS rescue device would have to send a signal at regular intervals, which would quickly drain the battery, the Post reported.

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