This is what it feels like to get microchipped

It wouldn’t really be a festival without someone having their body modified right at the start. True to form, that’s exactly how FutureFest 2016 kicked off, as two volunteers had microchips injected into their hands live on stage.

Let’s back up a little: this was part of a talk by tech speaker Hannes Sjoblad, promisingly entitled “Implant Party”. Sjoblad discussed how the digitisation of our lives means that, for most people, nearly everything you need on a daily basis will be kept neatly on a smartphone.

But there are still reasons to own more than one pocket: your keys, your travel card, your money – which are (usually) beyond the reach of iOS and Android. That’s where you take matters into your own hands – quite literally in the case of Sjoblad, who uses a small 2 x 12mm glass-encapsulated, passive 13.56MHz NTAG216 chip in his hand to unlock his phone and to access his office.

Is the convenience worth the pain – even if it is only for a brief moment? Two volunteers decided to find out for themselves, going through body modification in front of a live studio audience. One volunteer explained how she was planning to use the chip to unlock the doors to her home, doing away with keys forever. Although the second volunteer didn’t reveal his intentions, he did announce himself to be rather uneasy at one of the slide captions that read “of course it’s f***ing nuts.”

The procedure was over in a matter of seconds, with the chip ready to program right away using an Android app. One of the volunteers described it as not too dissimilar to the feeling of giving blood (albeit in the wrong place), while the other was clear that there was a brief moment of pain, and then went on to express solidarity to the millions of dogs and cats that have undergone the process of being chipped.

The audience seemed only half-convinced, with around a fifth raising their hands when asked if they’d be willing to get microchipped for an easy life. Would you be up for it?

Image: Robert Nelson, used under Creative Commons

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