Technology / 12.31.18
Are We Becoming Human Tickets?
Imagine becoming a "human ticket."
That pipe dream has become a reality for more than 4,000 Swedes, who agreed this past fall to be implanted with a microchip that contains details about each person's identity. According to London's The Daily Mail, the miniature technology (the chip is about the size of a single grain of rice) bypasses the need for cash, access cards and even tickets.
The implant is embedded under the skin on the back of a person's hand and enables that individual to enter secure buildings, access concerts for which they've purchased seats and even share via social media. Among those most excited for the innovation is Andrew Thomas, an associate at the Ticketing Institute and a director of INTIX's board. He sees a plethora of positives.
"Where's your Mastercard right now?" Thomas asked. "Where's your phone? We all know there are pinch points at entry to any venue. Imagine you could not lose or misplace your ticket, as it was under your skin. That would be great. Now, think about locking down resale. When you bought your ticket, you entered your chip number. It would be hard to transfer it, wouldn't it? This happens now with phones or credit card numbers. But those change. The chip in my arm doesn't."
He continued, "Thinking about large [general admission] events, can we use the chip to limit numbers to a stage at a festival or track our customers around the site? It’s possible. What about smoke breaks or access to skyboxes? Snap! Solving problems with frictionless solutions!"
With all the potential positive implications for the ticketing industry, does chipping have any cons? Any negatives?
"Numbers one through 10 will be privacy," conceded Thomas. "And, of course, numbers 11 and up will be about adoption. The tech is there, and it works. Now if people are reading this, they are ticketing people, and they also know technology. But would any of them [go this route]?
The technology that's in play with "chipping" is basic near-field communication (NFC)/radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. A small radio wave will emit from each person's implanted chip, like it does from one's ATM card. Thomas remarked, "Like your barcode readers use a laser, decodes the numbers, and interrogates the ticketing system to see if the ticket is valid, this would just look up my chip number and ask, 'Does Andrew have a ticket for tonight's event?'"
Of course, some — even many — in the general public may be hesitant to have a chip implanted in their bodies. So, how can they be assured and convinced the technology is safe and beneficial?
"It's all about marketing and messaging," Thomas was quick to answer. "Once Apple or Facebook invent one, produce one and then throw their [support behind] it, we will see movement."
Facial recognition has also been discussed regarding entry to various events and venues. Thomas spoke about the technology as far back as the INTIX Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim three years ago next month.
"We now see this on the new iPhone, so it's becoming far more widespread. For me, I remain a little squeamish. I would have problems enrolling my face rather than a chip."
So, does Thomas foresee a future where chipping technology will be widespread and prevalent? And is there another innovation on the horizon?
"We are still not scanning tickets at some venues! We have had this option — depending on whose patent you believe — for 15-plus years. The tech is cheap and reliable, and we are still not fully using it. Why? It's because we are generally not very good at adopting technology. I feel it will be 10 years until this is old news."
There have been some success stories, though. Allure notes that at the most recent Pause Fest, an Australian tech expo, 10 VIPs volunteered to swap paper tickets for implanted-microchip ones. By all accounts, the effort was a successful one. Nevertheless, some are concerned over the potential hacking of the data stored on each chip.
Progress, though, will be hard to stop once the technology gets rolling. In many ways, we are only mere steps away. We chip our pets. We now wear watches that monitor our activity, tell us to walk, stand up, and breathe. Medical devices are implanted to monitor heart rhythms, and doctors hundreds of miles away can monitor our conditions and adjust or recalibrate the devices. Our Swedish friends are using chips for train tickets. Implantable microchips, when, rather than if, they ever become widespread in use, would certainly form one of the cornerstones of a cashless society.
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Tags: Paperless , Implants , Reselling , Security