Some employees working at a Wisconsin tech company will soon have microchips embedded in their hands. This will allow them to enter the office, buy snacks and log into computers with just a swipe of their hand.
Three Square Market (32M) CEO Todd Westby said that more than 50 of the company's 80 employees agreed to have a microchip implanted into their hands. Westby, however, said that the company did not require their workers to do this.
An option is also available for those who do not want to get the implant but are interested to use the technology.
"For employees interested in the technology, but not the implant, they can place the microchip in an RFID wristband or an RFID/Near-Field Communication Smart Ring," the company said.
How The Microchip Works
The microchip, which uses radio frequency identification, or RFID technology, is about the size of a grain of rice and will be implanted between the thumb and forefinger.
"As with a proximity card, the chip implant works in a similar fashion — by holding the chip up to the device reader, the unique serial number associates the user with the software, the software then performs the requested function," the company said.
Westby made clear that the chip is not a GPS so it does not track workers nor does it require passwords. He also attested that the device is safe from hacking because it is encrypted like credit cards and does not have connection to the internet.
Westby said that the idea was initially met with reluctance but majority of the managers eventually agreed to the idea.
The company will shoulder the bill for the microchips, which costs $300 each. The implantation, which is set on Aug. 1, will be done by licensed piercers. Workers who change their minds after getting the microchip can have it removed.
Critics raised concern over the potential dangers of how the company will store, use and protect their employees' information.
Security expert Adam Levin of CyberScout related his apprehensions about putting a microchip in his body citing the risks of the technology.
"How much privacy and security are they willing to trade for convenience?" Levin said.
European Company Implanting Workers Since 2015
Three Square Market is not the first company to implant chips into their employees. Swedish company Epicenter also offered its workers an option to have a microchip injected into their hands, which they can use like a swipe card to open doors and operate printers with just a wave of the hand.
Epicenter started to implant chips into its workers in 2015. As of April this year, it has 150 employees who have the implant.