The business at the centre of a debate about microchipping employees and tech-stress insists its research with microchips has been taken out of context.
A spokesperson for Swedish firm Epicenter told My Business that speculation about the company and its work with RFID implants has been overwhelming, but most of the coverage has been incorrect.
“We do not implement microchips in our staff nor monitor,” the spokesperson said.
“We run a digital innovation house where we like to test and trial new technologies. We have a leading Swedish biohacker, Hannes Sjöblad, as part of our staff. He has, on a few occasions, organised events where members can, on [a] 100 per cent voluntarily basis, have the opportunity, at own cost, to implement a RFID microchip based on MIFARE and NFC standards.”
According to a pre-prepared statement, the spokesperson noted that the procedure is restricted to people over 18 years of age, requires active consent and does not form part of any HR policy of Epicenter or its member companies.
The cost of the procedure, which individuals taking part in the experiment have to pay for themselves, is around US$150.
My Business was also told that in terms of monitoring staff movements, microchips are less effective than other already commonplace technologies.
“If a person is worried about being traced, your mobile phone or internet search history poses a bigger threat than the RFID chip we use ever would do,” the spokesperson said.
“The implants used are so-called passive chips. That means [these] have no built-in power supply [so] they can’t send any signals about its position or other. They get their power from a reading device that has to be applied directly over the chip to get power and to be able to send data.”
Epicenter, which hosts more than 300 companies and 2,500 individual members at its research facility, said the trial began in January 2017, and has involved around 150 people – half of which were external individuals who signed up for the trial at open events.
Nevertheless, the trial demonstrates the lengths to which technology is evolving in a bid to promote efficiencies in business and in everyday life.
“There are a number of services that can be used with the microchips. It basically replaces keys, door fobs, business cards, credit cards, public transportation cards etc., allowing the user to [open] doors, releasing paper prints from copy machines, communicating and performing commands with your mobile phone [as well as] storing of information such as business cards, replacing your gym membership card so you can enter the gym, ride on public transportation, pay at vendor machines etc.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.