Wisconsin company known for microchipping employees plans GPS tracking chip for dementia patients

  • A Wisconsin-based technology company famous for microchipping willing employees will debut a microchip powered by body heat with GPS technology and voice recognition.
  • Three Square Market began developing the new chip last year, about the time the company branched out from self-service kiosks into microchips, smart city and medical error mitigation technology.
  • President Patrick McMullan said the company will be ready to beta test its new, GPS tracking chip early in 2019 and will be seeking Food and Drug Administration approval.

A Wisconsin-based technology company famous for microchipping willing employees plans to debut a microchip with GPS technology and voice recognition that will be powered by body heat, Three Square Market CEO Todd Westby announced on CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Wednesday.

"We started with a simple little chip, and now it's evolved into a whole other business. We're in development right now of an actual chip that will be powered by the human body ... and it will have GPS-tracking capabilities along with voice recognition," Westby said.

Three Square Market provides self-service kiosks to office break rooms across the U.S. and abroad, but the technology company made headlines last July when it announced it would cover the costs of microchip implants for its employees. A little over a year later, Westby says 92 out of 196 of the company's employees have been chipped. Only one person — a former employee — has had the chip removed.

"The vast majority of our employees absolutely love the conveniences that having this chip in their hand really brings to them," Westby said.

Westby described the chip as similar to an ID badge that can never get lost. It assists employees with day-to-day tasks, such as unlocking doors, logging in to computers using printers, and buying snacks.

The company initially received some backlash from critics questioning whether the company would be tracking its employees outside of the workplace. Executives insisted there was no GPS tracking.

But that is about to change.

Inspired by the chips it implanted in its employees, the company decided to develop a more advanced chip.

"It's not only GPS, it's not only voice activation, it's working on monitoring your vital signs. And there are different medical institutions that obviously want that," said Patrick McMullan, president of Three Square Market and chip technology business Three Square Chip. "It's going to tell my ... doctor's office I have an issue."

McMullan said the company has had requests for "a bunch of other stuff," such as tracking people, but he said the most practical and worthy application of the technology is for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

"Without question it's a worthy cause, and it's a product in demand," McMullan said.

Westby said Three Square Market may be one of the first — and most vocal — about using this type of technology but they certainly aren't alone.

"You see a lot of discussion now about implants, and how they can take your heartbeat, get your blood glucose levels — you see Amazon just hiring a top-notch doctor, you see Walmart filing for patents on this. What we've really done is made it acceptable, or brought it to the forefront where people are now talking about it and looking at the benefits it can do for a person," Westby said.

Three Square Market began developing the new chip around this time last year, which is about the time the company branched out from self-service kiosks into microchips, smart city and medical error mitigation technology. He said the company will be ready to beta test its new, GPS tracking chip early in 2019 and will be seeking Food and Drug Administration approval.

Some of those testing out the chips will likely be Three Square Market employees.

"We did this honestly, initially, just for fun, because that's what a technology company does. And often when you start with something, you end with something completely different," Westby said.