These days automakers make it really easy to get into your car and go. Most new cars come with fob-based keyless entry and push-button start systems, eliminating the need to ever touch a traditional key. Some manufacturers even go a step farther, allowing owners to use smartphones to gain access to their vehicles rather than a fob that can be easily misplaced. But what if there’s a way that would require the owner to carry nothing at all?
Amie Dansby, a self-proclaimed software engineer, video game programmer, maker of things, and passionate technologist from Plano, Texas, asked that very question after ordering a Tesla Model 3. Dansby had already inserted an RFID chip into her hand that allows her to unlock doors and automatically bring up her homepage on smartphones. Shortly after taking delivery of her Tesla Model 3, Dansby began work on a “body key” for her car.
Amie initially tried to transfer information from her car’s key card to the chip already implanted in her body, but found Tesla’s code to be too secure to crack. So instead, she decided to have her car’s factory RFID chip implanted in her forearm.
To complete the extreme hack, Dansby had to first dissolve her Tesla’s key card in acetone. Once the chip was free from its plastic casing, Amie sent it off to be covered in biopolymer (the same stuff veterinarians use to cover ID chips for animals). Amie says she consulted with several doctors who wouldn’t perform the procedure before finding a body modification studio willing to implant the chip in her arm.
Dansby told The Verge on Monday that the range of the chip, now implanted in the underside of her right forearm, “isn’t the greatest,” but says it works to unlock and start the vehicle, as long as her arm is no more than an inch from the Model 3’s sensors.