Epicenter, a technology startup hub in Stockholm, Sweden, has been offering employees the chance to have a small microchip implanted in their hand, ever since 2015. So far, 150 of its 3,000-strong staff have taken bosses up on their offer, and they couldn’t be happier with their decision.
Implantable microchips the size of a grain of rice have been around for a while now, but they are usually used as virtual identification plates for pets, or as tracking devices for deliveries. Up until a couple of years ago, when Epicenter started offering its employees the chance to have them implanted into their hands, these tiny devices had never been used to tag humans on a large scale.
For many people, having a chip inserted into their body sounds like something out of a dystopian future, or, at the very least, raises privacy questions, but the 150 Epicenter employees who have had them implanted say the technology just makes their life easier.
Instead of tracking their whereabouts at all times, collecting information about how much they work, or any sinister monitoring data of any kind, these implants are simply designed to help employees get around the workplace easier.
No more having to keep an access card on them to open doors, operate company printers or order lunch at the cafeteria. With the chip, all they have to do is wave their hand in front of the scanner and magic happens.
“The biggest benefit I think is convenience,” Epicenter co-founder and CEO, Patrick Mesterton, told the Associated Press. “It basically replaces a lot of things you have, other communication devices, whether it be credit cards or keys.”
The microchip implantation has become sort of a tradition at Epicenter, ever since Mesterton himself had his inserted in his hand, two years ago. The company offers this option to its employees, for free, and holds parties whenever someone decides that they want to become a rudimentary cyborg.
The procedure is quick and relatively painless. Jowan Osterlund, a self-described ‘body-hacker’ from Biohax Sweden, visits Epicenter whenever a new employee want to join the cyborg club, and injects the tiny chip into the flesh right next to the thumb. It apparently feels like a quick injection and there’s hardly ever any blood involved.