Would you allow your company to embed a microchip in you?

Microchips aim to make daily tasks easier for employees, from accessing the photocopier to buying a drink. But at what risk?
20 August 2018

There are a growing number of employees who are volunteering to have a microchip embedded into their body. Source: Shutterstock

Imagine paying for your lunch, entering your office building, and logging on to your computer with just a simple wave of a hand.

This can all be made possible through the embedding of a small microchip. And while this may sound something like a dystopian future from an episode from Netflix’s Black Mirror series, this is actually happening today.

Around 80 employees from Three Square Market (32M), a technology company that provides self-service mini-markets to hospitals, hotels, and company break rooms, have volunteers to have a chip inserted into their hand.

Approximately the size of a large grain of rice and implanted between the thumb and index finger, the chip aims to make the life of the employee a little easier to carry out activities such as paying for a drink.

From accessing the photocopier to buying a drink- microchips aim to make daily tasks easier for employees. Source: Shutterstock

The chips use near field communication (NFC) technology, which is also found in many touchless payment cards and key fobs and must pass within four centimeters of the receiving device to work.

The chips are “passive”, meaning they contain information that other devices can read, but they cannot read the information themselves.

The technology itself is not new- it is already being used for things such as for virtual collars for pets. But now the implant technology is becoming widely available for companies and its employees.

The rise of the cyborg

The insertion of microchips is especially popular in Sweden, where thousands of individuals are volunteering to be embedded with the technology in order to replace the need for a host of daily necessities both inside and outside of work.

One such example is replacing the need for a train ticket. Passengers on Swedish railway company SJ can now have their microchipped scans as proof of purchase.

Convenience over privacy?

While the embedded implant may save you a couple of seconds frantically searching for that train ticket you purchased, is it really worth it for the potential risk involved?

Ben Libberton, a microbiologist at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, says hackers could potentially gain a vast amount of information from embedded microchips.

Privacy and security concerns will only become bigger the more sophisticated and advanced the microchips become.

“The data that you could possibly get from a chip that is embedded in your body is a lot different from the data that you can get from a smartphone,” he said.

“Conceptually, you could get data about your health, you could get data about your whereabouts, how often you’re working, how long you’re working if you’re taking toilet breaks and things like that,” added Libberton.

Despite these concerns, it’s important to keep in mind that the chip program rolled-out by companies like 32M are┬ávoluntary. Yet, it’s not hard to imagine a future in which there is a rising pressure from employers to have chips implanted.