A tiny chip with giant effects

Biohax International, a Sweden-based technology company, has installed over 4,000 microchips into Sweden citizens to streamline everyday life. The microchip is inserted just below the thumb via a syringe, not unlike one used for vaccinations.

The microchip is a communication device that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The Biohax International website is the platform used to explain how the microchip is adaptable and is constantly being improved upon for more effective and multifaceted use. With a wave of the hand, the microchip can help a person access locations that would normally require keys, hold emergency contact information, share social networking profiles and hold e-tickets for events and transportation within Sweden. The next step currently being worked on by the Biohax team is streamlining transactions through the use of the microchip. Streamlining and simplification of life’s everyday mundanities is a big part of Jowan Österlund’s decision to begin working on the microchip.

Biohax International was first formed by Österlund in 2013 and has worked on the microchip technology since 2016.

The idea of the Biohax microchip stemmed from Österlund’s dislike of the lack of connectivity in the technological world. Österlund expanded upon this in an interview with Maddy Savage of National Public Radio.

“Having different cards and tokens verifying your identity to a bunch of different systems just doesn’t make sense,” Österlund said. “Using a chip means that the hyper-connected surroundings that you live in every day can be streamlined.”

With the Biohax headquarters in Helsingborg, and offices also founded in Linköping and Stockholm, Österlund isn’t surprised by the interest in the microchips in the slightest. He credited the interest in the microchip to the pragmatism of Sweden and the close-knit tech community of Stockholm.

Though Biohax International is beginning to expand to England, Österlund mentioned his doubts in the technology going beyond Europe any time soon. According to Österlund, the General Data Protection Regulation that was put into place for the European Union earlier this year is a contributing factor to keeping the technology from spreading to other continents any time soon.  

Many question the safety and security of the microchip technology. Ben Libberton, a scientist living in southern Sweden, has come forward as an advocate for closer observation on the development of this technology. Libberton said that while the technology is still tame in its current state, a world where this technology is commonplace could lead to personal information unknowingly being released regularly.

Österlund argued that, while he does consider such a scenario unlikely, it has been accounted for. The microchip’s frequency is specific to the technology being used at Biohax International and doesn’t emit a magnetic resonance high enough to even be picked up at an airport. He said that keeping the microchip under the skin also aids in making it more difficult to hack than any other form of technology.

The ethical questions of the microchip are the precursors to an early conversation, however, as not even Österlund sees them becoming a worldwide option at this stage in their development.

Österlund said that until there is a GDPR on a global scale, the likelihood of the microchip going beyond Europe any time soon is slim.

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Steven Gonzalez
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A tiny chip with giant effects

by Steven Gonzalez time to read: 2 min