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Human RFID Implant – Orwellian or Requested?

Posted on August 2nd, 2017 by in New Materials & Applications

RFID Implant

Image by Amal Graafstra [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

What could be perceived as raising the specter of “Big Brother”, a Wisconsin company is offering employees microchip implants beginning this month. A majority have agreed, do you?

Three Market Square, a micro market vending machine and kiosk company, recently announced they will be the first company in the United States to implant employees with radio frequency identification (RFID) microchips. Before visions of a totalitarian future depicted in the novel 1984 by George Orwell cloud your response, the company’s move is strictly voluntary and welcomed by 50 of the company’s 80 employees – including their CEO, Todd Westby. Three Market Square utilizes the technology in their vending machine offerings as a convenience for shoppers to pay with the swipe of a hand.

A closer look at RFID technology might also help to allay any fears. First used in the 1940’s to identify and differentiate “friend from foe” in military aircraft. RFID is a means of identification. The chip itself has no power source so does not transmit. Combine the chip with an antenna, and you have a tag which utilizes the power of an RFID reader wirelessly when within range.

Architecturally, the hardware is reasonably safe but still subject to hacking. RFID chips used in credit cards have been proven to be vulnerable, but this is due in part to the amount of data embedded on the chip – ID and pin – and what is connected – you’re hard earned cash. Keep the data on the chip to solely to a unique identifier – similar to the MAC address of your cellular phone or computer – minimizes the risk. Apparently, employees at the company agree.

At a time when we willingly give so much of our personal information to online companies – Google knows our names, addresses, mobile number, shopping habits, entertainment choices and payment histories – the additional risk of having an implanted identifier seems minimal to me. That said, I won’t be rushing out to seek a needle for my first injectable.

Could implantable RFID have an impact on your company’s product line? Tell us about your quest for unconventional knowledge and what it could mean for the future of your products or companies. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on your favorite social media channel.


All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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