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A snack technology company has announced it will offer employees microchip implants to assist them with day-to-day tasks, like unlocking office doors, using printers, logging in to computers and, of course, buying snacks.
Three Square Market, based in River Falls, Wisconsin, provides self-service mini-markets — think vending machines and standalone snack kiosks — to office break rooms across the U.S. and abroad.
Patrons can use cash, credit or debit to fund their fare, but Three Square Market also allows a few less conventional options, including mobile payment and fingerprint account access.
Executives believe microchip technology is the logical next step.
"This is the future," Three Square CEO Todd Westby told TODAY's Ron Mott.
Manufactured by Sweden-based BioHax International, the microchips are powered by Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, more commonly known as chip technology.
Electromagnetic fields interpret information stored on the microchips, so chipped employees will be able to open doors, boot up their computers and pay for break room snacks with a simple wave of the hand.
“We see this as another payment and identification option that not only can be used in our markets but our other self-checkout/self-service applications that we are now deploying which include convenience stores and fitness centers,” Three Square Market COO Patrick McMullan said in a statement.
If you are thinking "Big Brother," think again. Three Square Market executives insist information on the chips is secure, there is no GPS tracking and the implant is strictly voluntary.
"For a GPS device to work it needs to be powered, and your cell phones are powered ... this is a passive device and there is no power in it," Westby told TODAY.
Each microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and will be inserted between the forefinger and thumb of volunteers who opt to give it a go.
The chips cost about $300, but Three Square Market has offered to foot the bill, KSTP-TV reported.
One employee told TODAY she wasn't sticking her hand out just yet.
"I definitely see that there's benefits to it," marketing executive Katie Langer told Mott. "For me, it's mostly because I still haven't seen a lot of research on long term health effects and it just kind of freaks me out a bit. There's still a foreign object going into your body."
Three Square Market touts itself as the first U.S. company to offer employees implants like these, but initial response to the news has been decidedly mixed.
"I can leave a phone at home. Can't leave a company owned micro chip implanted inside my body at home," one Twitter user said.
Volunteers will be chipped at Three Square Market's first ever "chip party" at their headquarters on Aug. 1. Company executives expect more than 50 employees to volunteer.