Sunday, February 01, 2015

Branded for life?

The BBC has been reporting on a Swedish firm that is "offering" its employees the chance to have a microchip inserted under their skin.

Apparently this innovation allows them to open doors and work the photocopier by holding the back of their hand awkwardly against a sensor. They suggest this is "better" than using a card to do the same thing.

Cynics might suggest that it's really a method of control - once you can read the chip it's possible to track the employee everywhere. Others think it's the firm marking that the "own" the employee, in the same was as slaves were once branded with their owners mark.

What's daft is that there is no need for any of this. Just visit a model railway show and try to leave. Should a return to the hall be required later, you'll be offered a "pass out stamp" and the back of your hand will be inked with a suitable symbol.

You can't escape. If the good cake is in a cafe outside the hall then either you don't go back, buy another ticket or take the ink.

Then, when you leave, the world can see from the secret symbol where you have been, Groups of middle-aged men can gather safe in the knowledge that they are meeting friends. No need for a secret handshake, just check the mark of the modeller.

What I want to know, is when will the trade wake up to the demand for something that erases the stamp without half an hours scrubbing at the skin. I've washed with soap twice sine the show and it's still visible...

1 comment:

Huw Griffiths said...


No - I don't mean the "nourishing beverage" sold in hostelries.

Definitely not, in fact - I prefer cider, lager, or Newcastle Brown - but I wouldn't want to waste any of them.

Rather, I'm talking about isopropyl alcohol - which used to be sold, watered down, as tape head cleaning fluid.

I've got no doubt that basically the same stuff can still be found in poundshops, for cleaning CD drives, or smartphone screens.

I'm sure that lots of people also have a number of stronger solvents, which would almost certainly strip the ink from your skin.

Saying that, some - like acetone, dichloromethane (Plastic Weld), white spirit or cellulose thinners - would probably also strip the oils from your skin, causing it to crack up.

Over the years, many of us who've got a long journey back after the show (and a long wait before that journey begins) have just learnt that these marks usually wear off by themselves within a few hours.