Would you like to have a microchip in your hand which functions as a business card (hold it against a phone to transmit), gains you entry through doors at work, allows you to operate the photocopier, lets you pay for your food in the cafeteria and travel on public transport? I work in many different places and have lots of different codes to remember and cards to carry. I always seem to be hunting for something. In Sweden you also have to show your identification several times a day. I have often idly thought that a microchip would make my life easier (I already use the retinal scan passport option when I travel) but I guess there are ethical ramifications which would only manifest themselves somewhere down the line. It still feels all too Big Brothery – maybe the world is not ready for it. If it ever is.
A Swedish company has implanted microchips in its staff which allows them to use the photocopier, open security doors and even pay for their lunch.
It is hoped that eventually around 700 employees from the Epicenter hi tech office block in Stockholm may have the chips implanted into the back of their hands.
The chips use radio-frequency identification (RFID) and are about the same size as a grain of rice.
They store personal security information which can be transmitted over short distances to special receivers.
RFID chips can already be found in contactless cards – including the Oyster system which is used by more than 10 million people to pay for public transport in London.
They are also similar to the chips implanted in pets.
To hear biohacker Hannes Sjoblad talk about it, getting a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip installed under your skin is like an inoculation against obsolescence. As seen in a short video from the BBC, workers in a Swedish office complex called Epicenter get around using the small chips embedded within their hands. The tradeoff is very direct: ease of use at the expense of personal information.
Of course, it’s the placement of the RFID tag under the skin that makes this strange. People add mundane tracking devices to their lives all the time, from fitness trackers to smartphones. Phones are imperfect identification devices, but the the information they contain is personal and revealing enough that last summer a circuit court ruled that police need a warrant to access it.
Currently, microchipping at Epicenter is optional. For those who do choose to get the chip and opt-in to a cyberpunk dystopia future, a professional tattooist inserts the device. Perfect.