We’ve got contactless credit cards, smartphones, and smartwatches, but did you know that we have microchips now, too? That’s right: Since 2017 in Sweden, thousands of people have been implanting microchips above their thumb so that they can do nearly everything with just a wave of their hand.
Thousands Have Microchips Under Their Skin in Sweden
Sweden is known for being an early adapter to technology, and this certainly solidifies that idea. Since 2017, over 4,000 Swedes have implanted a microchip into their hand, just above their thumb. These tiny chips – no bigger than a grain of rice – allows them to unlock their homes, offices, and gyms, make payments and even purchase train tickets. Things such as social media profiles and emergency contact details are also stored inside them.
“Having different cards and tokens verifying your identity to a bunch of different systems just doesn’t make sense,” says Jowan Osterlund, founder of microchipping company Biohax International. “Using a chip means that the hyper-connected surroundings that you live in every day can be streamlined.”Jowan Osterlund, NPR
What About The Rest Of The World?
Sweden is a highly educated, technologically advanced country. Its citizens have a high level of trust in their businesses, corporations, and governments. This means that inserting a microchip into their hand isn’t such a big deal for them. For many other countries, however, this is not the case.
Some companies in America tried microchipping their employees, however, they received quite a lot of public backlash for it. 41 employees at a Wisconsin vending machine company volunteered to be chipped in 2017. Though some of the response was positive, there was an overwhelmingly negative response online. People flooded the company with one-star Google reviews, and others encouraged the employees to quit on Facebook. Several states are implementing laws making it illegal for companies to force their employees to receive a microchip implant.
The biggest concern is worker privacy and company surveillance. Already there are issues with this via smartphones – would microchips make this worse? This is what the microchip protection bills are trying to prevent.
“What we’re trying to say is employers cannot go to employees and say, ‘We’re doing away with name badges and microchipping you all,’” the Indiana bill’s author, Rep. Alan Morrison.Source: MarketWatch
This means that workers can not be barred from accepting a job or be fired because they refuse to microchip. If they feel they have been unjustly treated because of this, it gives them a legal leg to stand on.
Not For Tracking Purposes
Currently, only a few companies in the United States have expressed interest in microchipping employees but are adamant that they are not trying to “track” their employees. The chips are simply there to make certain things – like getting into the office or buying a snack from the vending machine – easier. There is no need for keys, wallets, or cash: Just tap your hand to the scanner, and boom, you’re in.
Those who are pro-microchip remind us that our company or other businesses can already track us just as well via our smartphones and credit cards, so what’s the difference?
“It really depends exactly on how you are using it and what you are using it for,” Amal Graafstra, CEO of a microchipping company, said. There’s a parallel with the trade-off between the anonymity of cash and the ease of a credit card, he added. “If you choose a credit card over cash, you’re telling a lot of people, a lot of companies, where you were and what you were spending on one day.”Source: MarketWatch
So, will people in most parts of the world begin using implanted microchips on mass? Certainly not. It is, however, an interesting concept and a possible nod to the future of smart technology.
- “Thousands Of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin.” NPR. Maddy Savage. October 22, 2018
- “The rise of microchipping: are we ready for technology to get under the skin?” The Guardian. Oscar Schwartz. November 8, 2019.
- “States are cracking down on companies microchipping their employees — how common is it?” Market Watch. Andrew Keshner. February 4, 2020.