It seems the stuff of dystopian nightmares of fringe takes on the book of Revelations, but more companies are starting to implant chips in their employees. Earlier this year, Swedish startup Epicenter let employees have an optional microchip implant for the sake of convenience. Functioning like an always-on-you RFID tag, the microchips let people in and out of the office, operate printers, buy snacks from vending machines and other mundane activities just by waving their hands at a terminal.
“The biggest benefit, I think, is convenience. It basically replaces a lot of things you have, other communication devices, whether it be credit cards or keys, ” Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and chief executive of Epicenter said back then.
Now, a US company called Three Two Markets is doing the same, letting employees opt into having the implants done. At a company party on August 1, they’re expecting 50 employees to get the chips done. The implant uses near-field communications (NFC), which is the same technology that in your contactless bank card that too few damned retailers locally support, and is in many phones for mobile payment options. The chip is implanted between the thumb and forefinger underneath the skin, in a process that takes seconds
“We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office break room market, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals. Eventually, this technology will become standardized allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.” says 32M CEO, Todd Westby.
Of course, this raises huge privacy concerns, though 32M insists that the chip isn’t tracking anything. He’s likely right. The chips are passive devices and are capable of storing very little information. It’s really no different to an office keycard – it’s just one you can’t easily lose.
What do you think? Is this the sort of future you’re keen to be a part of, or does biohacking like this make you feel uneasy?
Last Updated: July 25, 2017