Tech company to install rice-sized microchips in employees
Atechnology company has become one of the first in the world to microchip staff so they can clock-in by waving their arm, rather than using swipe cards or ID badges.
Staff at Three Square Market in Wisconsin will be able to order food at the cafeteria and open doors with the chip which is picked up by a reader using radio waves. They can also log in to their computer without a password.
Three Square Market, which is based in River Falls, is the first firm in the US to use the chip which was approved by regulators in 2004.
Although other companies in Sweden, the Czech Republic and Belgium have previously offered similar programmes the uptake has been small - fewer than 10 per cent of workers - amid concerns about biohacking.
Workers can now swipe in using just a chip in their hand
However at Three Square Market more than 50 out of 80 employees have so-far volunteered, the biggest uptake of any scheme yet, paving the way or such schemes to be widely adopted.The chip costs £230 and is the size of a grain of rice. It uses RFID, or radio-frequency identification technology which is also used by postmen who scan parcels on barcodes.
It is inserted with a needle between the thumb and forefinger and reportedly does not hurt too much.Three Square Market chief executive Todd Westby said that the chip would not track employees and did not have GPS positioning.
“We think it's the right thing to do for advancing innovation just like the driverless car basically did in recent months,” said Mr Westaby.
He said that the response among staff ‘exceeded my expectations’.
“Friends, they want to be chipped. My whole family is being chipped - my two sons, my wife and myself,” he said.
Sam Bengtson, a software engineer, said it was ‘pretty much 100 percent yes right from the get-go for me’.
Mr Bengston added: “In the next five to 10 years, this is going to be something that isn’t scoffed at so much, or is more normal. So I like to jump on the bandwagon with these kind of things early, just to say that I have it.”
But Melissa Timmins, the company’s sales director, was more hesitant.
“Because it’s new, I don’t know enough about it yet. I’m a little nervous about implanting something into my body.”
Privacy experts also raised the alarm and questioned how secure the chip really was.
Alessandro Acquisti, a professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, said that the microchip could be use for something more invasive later on.
The chip could track how long employees were in the bathroom or how long they took on their lunch breaks without their knowledge, he warned.
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