River Falls software company begins microchipping employees - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

River Falls software company begins microchipping employees

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River Falls (WQOW) -- We've heard of finger print technology or eye scanning security devices, but this new breakthrough is getting under some people's skin, literally.

32M is putting River Falls in front of eyes around the world. The software company is the first in the nation to microchip employees. Almost 50 of the company's over 80 employees volunteered for the initiative. Staff said it will be used to open office doors, log in to computers or to buy break room snacks. But executives said this is just the start of something much bigger, with some employees using it as secure storage for personal information.

"There's a certain formatting that you can do on mobile devices where if you scan it, it basically opens up a URL website, so he can literally scan his hand with his cell phone and his driver's license and medical information pull up," said Sam Bengston, software engineer at 32M who was microchipped Tuesday.

32M said over 100 organization or companies have reached out to learn how they can take it another step.

"Within five years, we've had some conversations with people that the federal government, it's something that they've already looked in to. But imagine being able to travel without a passport or worry about losing it. You just hold your hand up and the documentation comes up," said 32M CEO Todd Westby.

The chips have sparked controversy all around the nation for the risk of selling information or tracking someone's location. But officials said the technology they are using is not capable of GPS tracking. It's also not required of employees. Some have turned it down, saying they need to know more about the health risks. Others think this is just the first step in to the future, and could become a way to keep personal information more secure.

"The reality is, you're probably doing 50 plus activities, everybody in this room is probably doing 50 plus things today that be easily tracked, you can track everything. And the reality is, one of the reasons we got to this intersection is we said, we want to pull that information off," said 32M COO Patrick Mcmullan.

Executives said they believe each chip is worth about $300, an investment the employee is not responsible for. The company said they are still very early on in the product's development and staff are still unsure what the future holds, including how the chip is going to expand both its capabilities, and who uses it. The company hopes to know more information in as little as one month.

32M would not announce any specific names, but said they already have been contacted by a number of different companies, organization, hospitals and even foreign governments with interest in using the technology.

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