Employees agree to free microchip implants designed for office work
Would you agree to have a microchip implanted in you by your workplace that could potentially monitor your toilet breaks and how many hours you worked?
The chip is the size of a grain of rice and injected into a person's hand
It allows workers to open doors, use electronic devices, with potential for more
Data collected could include health, location, hours worked, toilet breaks
A Swedish firm in Stockholm — Epicenter — has offered to inject its staff with microchips for free, and around 150 of the company's young workforce have so far taken up the offer.
The RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips are roughly the size of a grain of rice, and are implanted using a syringe into the fleshy part of the recipient's hand.
At the moment the chip gives Epicenter's workers access to doors and photocopiers, but with the promise that further down the track it will include the ability to pay in the cafe.
Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and chief executive of Epicenter, said the biggest benefit of the script was the convenience.
"It basically simplifies your life," he said.
"You can do airline fares with it, you can also go to your local gym … So it basically replaces a lot of things you have other communication devices for, whether it be credit cards, or keys, or things like that."
Mr Mesterton said deciding to put something in your body was a big step, and when he first considered it he asked himself: "Why would I do this?"
"But then on the other hand, I mean, people have been implanting things in their body, like pacemakers and stuff, to control their heart," he said.
"That's a way, way more serious thing than having a small chip than can actually communicate with devices."
Epicenter's chief experience officer Fredric Kaijser, who is also microchipped, said it was common for people to ask him about it when they first found out he had an implant.
"They all get excited about privacy issues and what that means and so forth," he said.
Monitoring toilet breaks, work hours, location
Certainly the technology could mean trading off an amount of a person's privacy in exchange for the convenience it offers.
Ben Libberton, a microbiologist from the Swedish thinktank and research organisation the Karolinska Institute, said the data that could be accessed from the embedded chip was very different from the data found on a person's smartphone.
"Conceptually you could get data about your health, you could [get] data about your whereabouts, how often you're working, how long you're working, if you're taking toilet breaks and things like that," he said.
"All of that data could conceivably be collected.
"So then the questions is: What happens to it afterwards? What is it used for? Who is going to be using it? Who is going to be seeing it?"
Sandra Haglof, who works for the Stockholm-based event company Eventomatic, said she chose to get the chip because she wanted to be "part of the future".
"I usually lose a lot of things like my keys … so this will give me access and help me a lot more."