US company holds 'chip-party' to microchip workers

Tony Danna, left, vice president of international development at Three Square Market in River Falls, Wis., reacts while getting a microchip implanted in his left hand
Tony Danna, left, vice president of international development at Three Square Market in River Falls, Wis., reacts while getting a microchip implanted in his left hand

Nearly half of employees at a Wisconsin technology company agreed to be voluntarily microchipped during a "chip party" at the firm's headquarters.

Nearly half of employees at a Wisconsin technology company agreed to be voluntarily microchipped during a "chip party" at the firm's headquarters.

A microchip is shown compared with a dime

A microchip is shown compared with a dime

Employees at Three Square Market, also known as 32M, said they felt a brief sting when they received the microchip implant in their hand.

The chip will allow them to open doors, log on to computers or buy snacks in the break room by simply waving their hand.

The company, based in River Falls, said 41 of its 85 employees agreed to be voluntarily microchipped.

Melissa Timmins, vice president of sales at 32M, said she was initially apprehensive but decided to give the chip a chance.

"I planned for the worst and it wasn't bad at all," said Ms Timmins, who received a microchip in her left hand. "Just a little prick."

But marketing executive Katie Langer passed, citing health concerns related to putting a foreign object into her hand, while noting the chip received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in 2004.

"But that's still not very long term in my book, so I'd just like to know more about the long-term health effects," Ms Langer said.

She added that she is not ruling out a future implant of the 300 dollar (£226) microchip, which is being paid for by Three Square Market.

Company leaders said this is the first US appearance of technology already available in Europe.

Officials said the data in the microchip is encrypted and does not use GPS, so it cannot be used to track employees or obtain private information.

The company hopes the microchips can eventually be used on everything from air travel to public transit and storing medical information.

Professor Jeremy Hajek, of the Illinois Institute of Technology, said microchipping started years ago with veterinarians implanting the device in dogs and cats that might get lost.

"And so there's a little bit of a ... demeaning factor that this is what they do to little animals," Prof Hajek said.

But Noelle Chesley, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said she thinks implanting microchips into employees - and all people - is the wave of the future.

Many of those at the edge of developing those technologies "believe we are going to be combining technology in our bodies", Ms Chesley said.