A Dutch traveler has become the first person to travel without a physical boarding pass. The passenger had a microchip implanted in his hand that had all relevant travel documents. An experiment using an NFC microchip allowed the traveler to breeze through airport security without ever needing to hand over a his boarding pass for identification. Instead, the traveler scanned his hand on an NFC chip reader and was passed through security with the swipe of his wrist. The traveler was also able to insert the microchip into his hand on his own with a kit that was delivered to him in the mail. Could microchip boarding be common practice in the near future? Will physical passports become obsolete?
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) January 16, 2016
The Daily Mail reports that Dutch traveler Andreas Sjöström was able to implant a microchip that was mailed to his home as a replacement for the numerous travel documents typically needed to board an airplane. Sjöström, vice president of digital for technology consulting at Sogeti, opted to test out the chip as part of the Scandinavian Airlines’ program. The airline says they are aiming to create an innovative customer experience which will allow customers to worry less about boarding documents. The chip that was implanted into Sjöström contained his Scandinavian Airlines EuroBonus member ID which allowed him to board the plane, enter lounges, and go through security without presenting a boarding pass. But will the technology be made available to the public? For that to happen there is a lot of testing that needs to be done before the microchip can make all paperwork obsolete. In the meantime, the tech company says all travelers should have proper paper documentation on hand at all times.
“It gave me a new sensation, sort of a pre-notion of what it will be like in the future when we don’t have to reach out with physical objects to accomplish things.”
This isn’t the first innovative “paperless” option being offered or tested by Scandinavian Airlines. The company is also testing a NFC-readable sticker that holds a passenger’s details that would act as a boarding pass and hold the EuroBonus member number.
Wondering what it would be like to board an airplane with a microchip implant? Sjöström recorded his experience at the airport with his microchip to showcase exactly how easy the process would be should it ever be made available to the masses.
In the video it was noted that the implant has an NFC chip and was implanted directly into the hand. The technology was used at the Stockholm Arlanda airport.
“A few weeks ago I had an NFC chip implanted into my hand, just beneath the skin. In this video I use the chip to pass through Stockholm Arlanda airport, through security, at the lounge, and finally through the gate to the aircraft. My NFC chip contains my Scandinavian Airlines EuroBonus member ID, and since the airport has NFC readers all the way from security to the gate, I can use the chip instead of ordinary boarding pass.”
Many people praised the technology and began questioning if there were plans to offer something like this to the masses. The tech consultant noted that there are currently no plans to make the NFC chip available for public use in the airport. However, he says there are plenty of other uses for implants and that testing the implant’s NFC capability is the starting point. In fact, Sjöström says the only reason the NFC implant was tested at the airport was “to learn,” and that learning was the “only reason” the capability was tested. He notes that most people would not implant a microchip simply to store boarding pass information; therefore, the technology would not be used. However, if implants could provide more sought after services they could change the world as we know it.
“For some of us, digital services become increasingly important. We use them to keep in touch with friends and family, to stay healthy and in shape, to learn, to be entertained, and so on. If an implant would improve these services for me, as a user, in a significant enough way, I would consider that implant. For example, if I could have an implant that automatically would translate everything I hear, from one language to my mother tongue, I would consider that implant. In order for us, who are involved in designing these new solutions, to come up with the right set of characteristics and features for these types of implants, it makes sense to experiment even with simple implants like an NFC-chip, to learn.”
What do you think about the potential future of microchip implants? What would a microchip need to do for you to opt for an implant?
[Image via Shutterstock/Andrey Burmakin]