Three Square Market, which implanted 100 employees with microchips last year to open doors, log into computers, or buy snacks from vending machines, is working on a new microchip with GPS tracking capability and voice activation. This chip can also monitor vital signs and in the future, applications could involve storing medical records for use in emergency situations.
The microchip is the size of a grain of rice and is implanted in the hand between the thumb and forefinger. Some are concerned with privacy issues, but some are embracing the technology, including about 4,000 users in Sweden who can ride trains without tickets or turn on lights in their apartments.
How far this will go is yet to be seen, but many believe the technology will become widespread.
This post is based on the Washington Post article, This firm already microchips employees. Could your ailing relative be next?, by Peter Holley, August 23, 2018; and the videos, Wisconsin company implanting chips in employees, by CNBC, July 27, 2017, and This is what it feels like to get microchipped, by Fast Company, January 23, 2018. Image source: Corbis/SuperStock.
1. How does the new technology differ from the older RFID chips that have been embedded in Three Square Market employees or Swedish train passengers?
Guidance: The older technology, which used RFID chips similar to those embedded in pets or warehouse shipments, has to be very close, in some instances no more than a centimeter away, in order to be read. Biohax systems allow Swedes to ride trains, use printers, or buy food in the canteen with the wave of the hand. The new technology being developed by Three Square Market has GPS tracking capabilities and could house a person’s entire medical history. While potentially much more powerful, this technology raises privacy and security concerns for some.
2. Where in the product life cycle is the technology of microchipping humans?
Guidance: Using RFID tags or other such chips in humans is in the early introductory phase. Only a very limited number of people are using them, and many people are not aware of the potential or all of the cautions that may come with it. It may take a significant amount of time and education for the public to become comfortable with the technology.
3. What are some implications for operations management if more businesses start using microchips for employees or customers?
Guidance: If the stigma wears off, such that wide-spread adoption of chips becomes acceptable, they could be used replace passports and driver’s licenses, which could result in a completely different screening process in airports and other places where I.D. is shown. Keys, whether traditional or card, could become obsolete, and hotels, for instance, could simply put the code which would have gone onto the key card onto one’s microchip instead. Hospital emergency rooms could instantly gather patient data with a simple scan of the hand, and medical record-keeping in general could change dramatically. Similarly, law enforcement could quickly identify victims or those arrested with a simple scan.