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The chip that will be implanted into employees. Photo: 32M

RFID, or radio-frequency identification, technology is not a new concept. Most people have used it in one way or another—paying with a credit card, checking out a library book, paying a toll via E-ZPass. Laboratory professionals may be most familiar with the technology for consumables inventory and sample identification.

Now, some 50 employees in Wisconsin have taken RFID to another level—they have agreed to have microchips implanted into their hands on August 1.

The chip-implantation is being offered on a voluntary basis to any interested employees by Three Square Market (32M), a company that specializes in micro-markets, or mini convenient stores.

The chip, which will be implanted underneath the skin between the thumb and forefinger, will allow 32M employees to make purchases in their break room micro-market, open company doors, log into computers, use the copy machine, etc., all with the wave of a hand.

The Wisconsin-based company will become the first U.S. organization to provide implanted microchip technology to their employees—but they do so with an eye toward the future.

"We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office break room market, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals. Eventually, this technology will become standardized, allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.," said 32M CEO, Todd Westby, in a press release.

The company has made it clear it believes RFID chip technology is the future, and this offering will further push 32M down a positive, profitable path.

The chip implant uses near-field communications (NFC)—the same technology used in contactless credit cards and mobile payments. The actual implementation is quick and painless. It is projected to cost $300 per chip—a bill 32M is all too excited to pick up.

32M COO Patrick McMullan explained that chip technology is commonplace in European markets, so the company wants to get ahead of the curve as the technology inevitably moves West.

"The international market place is wide-open and we believe that the future trajectory of total market share is going to be driven by who captures this arena first," said McMullan.  "Europe is far more advanced in mobile and chip technology usage than the U.S. and we are thrilled with the growth opportunity this enhancement will bring to us."

All employees that volunteer, which 32M expects to be about 50, will be chipped at the inaugural “Chip Party” hosted at 32M headquarters in River Falls, Wisconsin.

So, the only question left to ask is, would you get “chipped” by your employer?

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