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Digital angel

It is a new computer device that can track people wherever they go. It’s supposed to help the sick, missing children, and even keep tabs on criminals. But critics say that it could be used to invade your privacy, as CBS 2’s Paul Moniz reports.

Applied Digital Solutions has unveiled a flashy new device called Digital Angel, hailed as a breakthrough in personal safeguard technology. The device is the size of a watch and worn close to the body, combining bio-sensors, web enabled wireless telecommunications and GPS location tracking systems to locate someone when they are in trouble.

It even monitors vital signs like heart rate, temperature and blood pressure, so when disaster or illness strikes the message gets out. Applied Digital says the device has a wide range of uses from helping locate Alzheimer’s patients and missing children to keeping track of heart patients.

Bur critics worry about more ominous uses. "It has the potential for an orwellian society where big brother, not only government but private companies in cahoots with the government, are watching you," says Norman Siegel, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

But Dr. Peter Zhou, chief scientist of Digital Angel disagrees. "First of all, it’s outside the body. We don’t inject people, we don’t transplant. You can take it off if you don’t like it."

The technology has caught the attention of the U.S. government. Secretary of Commerce Norman Mineta attended the unveiling, as the company says Digital Angel could protect soldiers.

Applied Digital hopes to have a dime size chip available in 12 to 18 months and it would sell for between one and two hundred dollars with an additional monthly users fee.

There are already chips to improve brain function, even one being developed that might help the blind see, Now Digital Angel hopes to cash in on the endless quest for personal safety.

But Applied Digital Solutions recently merged with another company that manufactures implanted chips for animals. That has fueled concerns that the so-called human chip could be offered as an implantable device in the future. Company representatives insist that is not where Digital Angel is headed, although they would not rule out the possibility entirely.

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