A company in Sweden is tapping on a relatively new technology to give their employees the ability to do things with just a wave of the hand. The technology also has the potential to track what employees do.
Swedish company Epicenter offers to implant its workers with microchip the size of a grain of rice. Injecting the microchip that functions as swipe card for opening doors and operating printers with a wave of the hand has become so popular among Epicenter workers they hold parties for those who are willing to get implanted.
Epicenter started to implant employees in 2015, and it now has 150 workers who have the implant.
How The Microchip Implant Works
The implant uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which is also used in contactless credit cards. Once a reader activates the device from a few centimeters away, electromagnetic waves transmit data between the two devices. The implants contain information that can be read by other devices but cannot be read by the chips themselves.
Workers at Epicenter hold monthly events where attendees get the option of being chipped for free. Jowan Osterlund, a self-described "body hacker" working at Biohax Sweden, performs the operation.
The process, which lasts just a few seconds, involves injecting the tiny implant using preloaded syringes into the hand's fleshy area just next to the thumb.
"The next step for electronics is to move into the body," Osterlund said.
Convenience Of Getting Chipped
Employees who get chipped are like cyborgs that can electronically manipulate things. The implanted device allows them to control things they would normally have to manually do.
At the moment, those who have been implanted with a microchip use it to access doors and photocopiers, but Epicenter, which has an extended family of over 300 companies, including Microsoft and Spotify, said that the microchip comes with more features.
Epicenter executive Patrick Mesterton said that the biggest benefit this technology offers is convenience. Mesterton, who also had a grain-sized microchip implanted into his hand, said the technology can simplify life and replaces things such as communication devices, credit cards, and keys.
"You can do airline fares with it, you can also go to your local gym ... So it basically replaces a lot of things you have other communication devices for, whether it be credit cards, or keys, or things like that," Mesterton said.
The convenience of getting implanted with the microchip, however, comes at a price since use of the technology could mean that a person has to trade off an amount of privacy. The data that the chips contain can reveal how often an employee goes to work, if he is taking toilet breaks, or what he buys, and unlike with swipe cards or smartphones that can generate the same data found in the implanted chip, people cannot easily separate themselves from the chip.
The downsides, though, do not seem to discourage some people from getting chipped. Sandra Haglof, an employee at events company Eventomatic, said she wanted to get chipped because she wanted to be part of the future.