Adventures In Biohacking: Hi-Tech Swedish Building Complex Implants RFID Microchips In Employees

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BioNyfiken, a Swedish biohacking group, has embedded radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in the hands of hi-tech office workers. YouTube

Employees at the Epicenter building complex in Stockholm, Sweden have a new option when it comes to entering the building. Instead of swiping the usual plastic keycard, they can wave their hand in front of a sensor. How, you may ask, does this magically open doors? There’s nothing magic about it: Office workers have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips embedded in the skin between their thumb and index finger, courtesy of BioNyfiken, a Swedish biohacking group.

“We want to be able to understand this technology before big corporates and big government come to us and say everyone should get chipped — the tax authority chip, the Google or Facebook chip,” Hannes Sjoblad, Epicenter’s chief disruption officer and a member of BioNyfiken, told BBC. Early knowledge gained from this project, he believes, will provide him with the insight necessary to question how any such technology becomes implemented in the future.

For now, the microchips, which are inserted by a professional tattoo artist (and member of BioNyfiken), are optional for employees. Each grain of rice-sized chip is encased in a small capsule, which also contains a copper antenna coil and a capacitor. The chip stores a unique binary number that is transmitted to the scanner. Along with allowing entry into the Epicenter complex, the chip also opens the doors of individual offices and makes the photocopier run. Shortly, the microchips will be used by employees to pay for lunch in the cafeteria and similar services.

While some of the employees would "absolutely not" be chipped, BBC reports, others participate with enthusiasm in this biohacking adventure.

What is Biohacking?

A form of citizen biology, biohacking, in practice, amounts to a bunch of people coming together to learn more about biology by developing Do-It-Yourself projects. It takes place in small labs with mismatched equipment, where the intention is to learn as you go, to learn by experimenting. The point for many is participation, the point for others is to find new ways of exploring and using science. DNA and genes are a primary focus for most biohackers, though clearly the junction of technology and biology is the theme haunting BioNyfiken and keeping its members up late most nights.

“We explore what we can do with modern technology on any biological being, from bacteria to plants and all the way to homo sapiens,” Sjöblad recently told Radio Sweden. “The concept of bio-hacking has really developed on the basis of technological developments in lab equipment and in modern sensor technology. What 10 years ago was only possible to do in a big lab can now be done by two students in a dorm room.”

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