RFID: through the eyes of Digital Angel


If you search the web for companies leading the current Radio Frequency identification revolution you will quickly run into a company called Digital Angel. Their broad array of RFID products delivers functional value to markets as diverse as livestock to the U.S. coastguard. In recent years the company has expanded through acquiring other companies such as Signature Industries which Search And Rescue Beacon Equipment (SARBE) and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs). Its SARBE trademark devices are found on ships, aircraft and submarines of armed forces in over 40 countries. They have a civilian equivalent through subsidiary McMurdo which they acquired in April 2007.

Their subsidiary Destron Fearing is a leading manufacturer of implantable RFID microchips for use in identifying lost pets around the world. The microchip, a passive device (requiring no power source) about the size of a grain of rice, is implanted just underneath the skin between the pet’s shoulders. The pet’s identification number and owner information is then enrolled in a regulated database. If a lost pet appears in a shelter or veterinary office, it can be immediately scanned, identified and then reunited with its owner. Today there are 70,000 scanners in animal shelters and veterinary offices around the U.S., making it possible for more than 7,000 pets to be reunited with their owners each month. Helping this market expand even more quickly is the United States Department of Agriculture, which endorses microchips to identify pets and even advocates educating the public about microchip technology. Currently in the U.S. market, only 3% to 5% of pets have received microchips. With more than 100 million dogs and cats in the U.S. alone, the potential for market expansion is extensive.

In the ever-evolving quest to take implantable chip technology a step further, in October 2006, Digital Angel was granted a patent for an implantable RFID microchip that can determine glucose levels in the bodies of animals and humans. A functioning prototype of this device is expected in 2008. Other potential bio-sensing applications are being intensely explored, including monitoring pulse oxygen levels and blood pressure.

With these and other market-ready products available it is not hard to see how Digital Angel is nicely positioned to capitalize on the quickly expanding RFID market place.