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Technology gets under clubbers' skin

By Chetna Purohit

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Club director Conrad Chase is implanted with a chip.
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(CNN) -- Queuing to get into one nightclub in Spain could soon be a thing of the past for regular customers thanks to a tiny computer chip implanted under their skin.

The technology, known as a VeriChip, also means nightclubbers can leave their cash and cards at home and buy drinks using a scanner. The bill can then be paid later.

The system is also designed to curb identity theft and prevent fraudulent access to credit card accounts that is increasingly common in crowded restaurants and clubs.

Clubbers who want to join the scheme at Baja Beach Club in Barcelona pay 125 euros for the VeriChip -- about the size of a grain of rice -- to be implanted in their body.

Then when they pass through a scanner the chip is activated and it emits a signal containing the individual's number, which is then transmitted to a secure data storage site.

The club's director, Conrad Chase, said he began using the VeriChip, made by Applied Digital Solutions, in March 2004 because he needed something similar to a VIP card and wanted to provide his customers with better service.

"I believe we should use new technology to provide our customers with the best service and entertainment," Chase told CNN.

He said 10 of the club's regular customers, including himself, have been implanted with the chip, and predicted more would follow.

"I know many people who want to be implanted," said Chase. "Almost everybody now has a piercing, tattoos or silicone. Why not get the chip and be original?"

In the wake of the Madrid train bombings that killed 190 people in March, Chase said VeriChip could also boost security by speeding up checks at airports, for example.

He denied the scheme had any drawbacks. The VeriChip is an in-house debit card and contains no personal information. It is made of glass so poses no health risk, Chase said.

But Dr. Arun Patel, a general physician in Los Angeles, warned that placing an electronic device inside the body could be problematic.

"From a medical standpoint, obviously you worry about radiation with any electronic device," Patel said.


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