Electronics

US company offers free microchip implants to all employees

US company offers free microch...
Three Square Market (32M) is offering to implant its employees with RFID chip like those used to microchip animals (pictured)
Three Square Market (32M) is offering to implant its employees with RFID chip like those used to microchip animals (pictured)
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An example of the type of break room "mini market" that could be accessed through the RFID microchips
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An example of the type of break room "mini market" that could be accessed through the RFID microchips
The microchips being used by 32M are the size of a grain or rice
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The microchips being used by 32M are the size of a grain or rice
Three Square Market (32M) is offering to implant its employees with RFID chip like those used to microchip animals (pictured)
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Three Square Market (32M) is offering to implant its employees with RFID chip like those used to microchip animals (pictured)

For years, a subset of the transhumanist community, called "grinders", has been experimenting with implanting electronics and microchips into their bodies. Considered fringe technology not so long ago, the idea of implantable electronics has recently moved closer to the mainstream. Now a tech company based in Wisconsin is set to offer all its employees the option of receiving an implantable microchip in their hands.

The RFID chip Three Square Market (32M) is offering all its employees is the size of a grain of rice and easily implanted under the skin, between the thumb and forefinger. Utilizing near-field communications (NFC), the chip will give employees the ability to automatically open doors, log into computers and make purchases in the break room simply with the wave of a hand.

An example of the type of break room "mini market" that could be accessed through the RFID microchips
An example of the type of break room "mini market" that could be accessed through the RFID microchips

"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," says 32M CEO, Todd Westby. "Eventually, this technology will become standardized allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc."

So far, 50 out of the company's 85 head office employees have signed up for the program. They will be "chipped" at what the company is calling a "chip party" to be held in early August.

While the chip technology certainly offers some benefits for those inclined to frequently lose or forget their wallet and keycard, RFID chips are still the subject of considerable concern regarding both security and privacy.

The microchips being used by 32M are the size of a grain or rice
The microchips being used by 32M are the size of a grain or rice

RFID "skimming" is a form of wireless digital theft where a criminal lifts the information off a nearby chip. Safely securing the data on a chip is still a problem that hasn't been fully resolved. An MIT team last year announced a breakthrough in RFID security with the development of a supposedly "unhackable" chip, but this technology is not yet in widespread use.

Privacy issues are another major concern when considering a broader public implementation of RFID chips. 32M has made it very clear that the RFID chips it is using are small and have a very limited tracking range. RFID is not the same as GPS for instance, and these small chips generally can only be identified when pressed close to a receiving device.

But this is certainly a case of putting a whole lot of trust in your employer. Although these types of RFID chips have very limited functions right now, it is not hard to envision a future where they can do a whole lot more, from potentially more widely tracking your location to containing biosensors that could detect the presence of illicit substances.

The dawn of corporations microchipping employees is upon us, and the big question we have to ask ourselves is, how much do we trust our boss?

Source: Three Square Market

8 comments
highlandboy
Security issues are nothing new. Mobile phones have been trackable for some time. Chip embedded credit cards can be read with appropriate amplified equipment just walking past. Yet most people carry both without taking precautions. The only new issue raised here is whether the power of choice has been removed if you have to be chipped to work for, or be promoted by, the company.
Bob
Mark of the beast.
Biker Bill
"Mark of the BEAST" is exactly what I was thinking as well. The "sheep" will love this idea.
Wolf0579
Bob, you can go back to your evidence-free bibble. This is science-y stuff.
chase
Security and tracking aside. What would be interesting since it is going before skin deep, is an similar sized device that could monitor personal health on a deeper level, but also act as well as private personal key system. For instance, blood levels, toxins, chemical balance and a slew of other things could be monitored. Fore telling possible health issues as soon as they arose. This could all be tracked via a simple app on your smart device which will only activate if and when you're within close range. CC authorization only if it's within reach of the CC owner. Otherwise, it's a dead card. Of course that might mean thieves might chop your hand off to gain access but... You could have it to where if the O2 levels drop below a certain level. Your cell is alerted, medics and police are auto notified and called to assist. Giving gps location of the user. And until the O2 levels rise to normal levels, it prevents security breach. Which would thwart and discourage would be thief's from taking a hand from you thinking they could gain access with just the device. A lot of possibilities so why limit it to just opening doors at work, when so many other doors could be opened.
tsvieps
Some like this could really get under one's skin. Pun intended. I would prefer vein reading or iris reading for ID, not a surgical implant.
DaleBarclay
It is nice till someone deliberately removes it from your hand and uses it to access all those places the company thought was secure. They should implant them in different places, not just one location the same for all.
Phallanx
So what happens when quit the company? Or if the chip becomes defective? Or the tech becomes outdated? Or you have start an infection? Do they dig it out of you?