Some workers at the tech company Three Square Marketa in Wisconsin will soon be getting microchips in order to enter the office, log into computers and even buy a snack or two with just a swipe of the hand. Todd Westby, the CEO of tech company, told ABC News that of the 80 employees at the company’s River Falls headquarters, more than 50 had agreed to get implants.
The microchip uses RFID — radio frequency identification — technology and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004. It is the size of a grain of rice and will be placed between the thumb and forefinger.
Jowan Osterlund of BioHax, which is partnering with Three Square Market, said implanting people was the next step for electronics. “I’m certain that this will be the natural way to add another dimension to our everyday life,” Osterlund told The Associated Press.
The Swedish startup hub Epicenter has offered to implant its workers with microchips that function as swipe cards: to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand.
According to The Associated Press the injections have become so popular that workers at Epicenter hold parties for those willing to get implanted. “The biggest benefit I think is convenience,” said Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and CEO of Epicenter.
“People ask me, ‘Are you chipped?’ and I say, ‘Yes, why not,’” said Fredric Kaijser, 47, the chief experience officer at Epicenter. “And they all get excited about privacy issues and what that means and so forth. And for me it’s just a matter of I like to try new things and just see it as more of an enabler and what that would bring into the future.”
The microchips allow the companies that employ them to track their every move, so bosses can monitor toilet breaks and how long they work.
The Baja Beach Club in Barcelona was the first club to offer microchipping to VIP clients, allowing easy access to membership features. Affluent Mexicans worried by soaring kidnapping rates are implanting microchips in their kids so they can be tracked if they are kidnapped. In the Brazilian city of Vitoria da Conquista, children up to the age of 14 have had electronic chips implanted into their uniforms as a way to combat truancy.
The FDA has stated that several risks for human microchipping include adverse tissue reactions, electrical hazards, and — potentially most importantly — “incompatibility” with strong-magnet medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs).
A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, discovered that chip implants had “induced” malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats. “The transponders were the cause of the tumors,” said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist.
A 1998 study in Ridgefield, Conn., of 177 mice reported cancer incidence to be slightly higher than 10 percent — a result the researchers described as “surprising.”
A 2006 study in France detected tumors in 4.1 percent of 1,260 microchipped mice. This was one of six studies in which the scientists did not set out to find microchip-induced cancer but noticed the growths incidentally.
In 1997, a study in Germany found cancers in 1 percent of 4,279 chipped mice. The tumors “are clearly due to the implanted microchips,” the authors wrote.
“There’s no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members,” said Dr. Robert Benezra, head of the Cancer Biology Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.