(ABC News) — Some workers at a company 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 Three Square Market, told ABC News today that of the 80 employees at the company’s River Falls headquarters, more than 50 had agreed to get implants. Westby said, however, that participation was not required.
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.
Westby said that when his team was initially approached with the idea, there was some reluctance mixed with excitement.
But, after more details were released and conversations were had, the majority of managers were on board and opted to partner with BioHax International to get the microchips.
Westby said the chip is not a GPS, does not allow for tracking workers and does not require passwords.
“There’s really nothing to hack in it because it is encrypted just like credit cards are. … The chances of hacking into it are almost nonexistent because it’s not connected to the internet,” he said. “The only way for somebody to get connectivity to it is to basically chop off your hand.”
Three Square Market is footing the bill for the microchips, which cost $300 each, and licensed piercers will be handling the implantations on Aug. 1. Westby also said that if workers change their minds, the microchip can be removed as if taking out a splinter.
He said his wife, young adult children and others would also be getting the microchip next week.
Critics today warned that there could be dangers in how the company planned to store, use and protect workers’ information.
Adam Levin, chairman and founder of CyberScout, which provides identity protection and data risk services, said he would not put a microchip in his body.
“Many things start off with the best of intentions but sometimes intentions turn,” Levin said. “We’ve survived thousands of years as a species without being microchipped, is there any particular need to do it now? … Everyone has a decision to make; that is, how much privacy and security are they willing to trade for convenience?”
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.