A new Swedish office block is implanting the workers inside of it with computer chips under their skin, rather than issuing them with ID cards.
The small radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips are pushed under the skin in the hand, and can then be used to open doors or use the photocopier.
Around 700 people have been fitted with the chips, at the Epicenter hi-tech office block in Sweden. That now includes the BBC’s technology reporter Rory Cellan-Jones, who said that when a tattooist put it in there “was a moment of pain – not much worse than any injection – and then he stuck a plaster over my hand”.
Those behind the chips hope that they will eventually become common enough to be used to pay for sandwiches in the canteen, or even replace passwords and PINs to get into computers. They can also be programmed to hold contact information and communicate with smartphone apps.
All workers at the office are being offered to have the chips implanted. It is done by a Sweden-based biohacking group, which hopes that implanting the technology will lead people to think about how it might be used for even more dystopian purposes.
Hannes Sjoblad, who is chief disruption officer at the office development, told the BBC: “We want to be able to understand this technology before big corporates and big government come to us and say everyone should get chipped — the tax authority chip, the Google or Facebook chip.”
Sjoblad has his electronic business card built into the chip, which others can then access using their smartphones.
The whole office will be internet-enabled — its building management will be run through Microsoft’s “internet of things” technology. That will tell facilities management when a plant needs watering or a meeting room needs emptying, all through connected appliances and sensors.
Epicenter is a “members-only workplace collective and innovation hub”, which promises to pioneer new ways of working. It has been built by Swedish property company AMF Fastigheter, and has members including Microsoft.