Vending machine company to microchip employees

- Three Square Market in River Falls, Wisconsin, designs modern vending machines. It plans to microchip its employees on a voluntary basis to purchase items in the office's micro-marketplace, open the doors to its building, log into office computers, and operate company copy machines. The chip will live under their skin between the thumb and forefinger.

"It's the next thing that's inevitably going to happen and we want to be a part of it," CEO Todd Wesbty said.

Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer said he hoped this example of embedding machinery inside of a company's employees represented only a marketing stunt.

"My reaction is that this is pretty creepy," Spoonauer said. "Logging into your computer, paying for goods or using office equipment are not the types of things that usually rise the level of me altering my body."

But Spoonauer said he agreed with Westby that wearables and biometric passwords and implantables likely play some role in our futures.

"Implantables could be the next wave," Spoonauer said. "The first wave of that is going to be implantables that help us solve specific health problems. This one is more of a nice-to-have as opposed to a need-to-have."

Westby said the chips do not have GPS tracking.

"But it is going to be tracking you in other ways," Spoonauer said. "Like, how often or when you log into the building and where you are within the building and that sort of thing."

A microchip beneath our skin owned, maintained, and tracked by an entity other than ourselves likely does -- and likely should -- raise security concerns for many.

"It's FDA-approved since 2004," Three Square Market's Tony Danna said. "It takes about two seconds to put one in and two seconds to take one out."

Three Square Market promised that its chips won't track the movements of its employees, but one might envision, say, a health-insurance company expressing an interest in the vending-machine habits of one of those it insures.

Advocates of chipping imagine the technology aiding in airport security lines, public transit ticketing, grocery shopping, paying one's restaurant bill, hospitals, and more.

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