Looking for a futuristic way to pay? Try implanting a chip in your hand

Lesson #
August 20, 2018
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Some brave early-adopters have surgically implanted a microchip in their hands, and are using it to board trains, access their offices, and even pay for things in shops. But the opportunity to use the chips is still relatively limited. Learn what it means to "show off" in English.


Also in Today's Lesson


Transcript

Simple TranscriptEspañol中文FrançaisPortuguês日本語ItalianoDeutschTürkçePolski

Welcome to the next frontier of personal technology: implanting a microchip in your own body

Have you ever wanted to pay for public transportation, access your office building, or pay for lunch just by waving your hand? You can—in some very limited cases—by implanting a microchip in your hand. The only catch is you have to live in Sweden.

Welcome to episode 78. I’m Jeff and JR is the producer, and you’re listening to Plain English, the best podcast for learning English. You not only learn some new English words and phrases, but you can also learn about what’s going on in the world at the same time. Not a bad deal.

The transcript for today’s episode is available at PlainEnglish.com/78 and on that transcript you can find instant translations of the most difficult words and phrases from English to Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, French and Chinese.

The English phrasal verb we’re going to talk about later on is “show off.” Let’s dive right in.


Scan your hand, board a train

It sounds like something out of the future, but I promise you it’s actually the present—for some people. Microchips implanted in humans can be used to pay for purchases, take a train, open locked doors, and access medical records. All you need is someone to inject a small chip about the size of a grain of rice between your thumb and your forefinger. That’s what about 10,000 brave souls around the world have done, all in the name of convenience, and probably to show off a little bit.

I say “show off” because it really isn’t very convenient unless you can actually use the microchip in the places that you often go. And in case you haven’t noticed, not many places around the world are actually open to scanning your hand—at least, not outside the movies.

Still, that’s not about to stop these early-adopters, most of whom are in Sweden. The national railway company started a program to use microchips as passenger train tickets; about 130 users have taken them up on that offer. They buy train tickets online, and the conductor scans their chip instead of asking for ID or a paper receipt.

At this point, all the chips do is transmit a limited set of data—usually just a number—when they are scanned by a special scanner. The chips don’t actually have any computing power and they don’t receive data. It’s really just like a simple transmitter of limited information. It’s up to the outside world to connect that number to useful databases, like the passenger list on a train, for example.

Some companies in Sweden have also started using microchips as a way to enhance building security. Instead of carrying around an ID card to open locked doors or activate printers, like many of us do, the employees at these tech-forward companies just scan their hands.

Right now, chip implants in humans are definitely more for showing off than for any practical use. But there are some real potential advantages. For example, what if you are in an accident and lose consciousness and can’t respond to questions? You might have allergies to medications or a medical condition that doctors might need to know about before giving you treatment. If microchips were common, you could be scanned before getting treatment, so doctors could look up your medical records and know if you had a heart condition, for example, or if you needed regular insulin injections.

Think about all the ways you use some type of electronic ID for security purposes. Everything from logging onto a computer or your phone to accessing your gym to using a credit card to buy something. All these things could—could—be done with the wave of your hand. The chips might also be able to be used as official government identification, too.

And that’s where some people question whether they truly want a surgical implant to be used as identification; it seems kind of creepy to think your body might be scanned by the police or in a government office as if you were just a box on a store shelf. Plus, I think for every technological innovation, there are always people who will be able to cheat it. At first, I figured a chip implanted in your hand could never be lost or stolen. And it’s true it could never be lost, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to think that it could actually be stolen. It could also be hacked, right? Who knows?

The idea of surgically implanted microchips is not new. In fact, they’ve been used with pets and livestock for a long time. In some parts of the world, like England, the United States, Australia, Japan, and Israel, pets like dogs and cats get microchips inserted. This helps animal shelters identify the pet’s owner if the pet gets lost, saving shelters the cost of taking care of lost pets, and saving pet owners the anguish of missing their furry friends. Chips are also used by scientists and government agencies as part of their research into wild species such as bison, elk, grizzly bears, and deer.


Yeah, I don’t think this one’s for me. I don’t have tattoos or piercings and I don’t like needles.

Let me say hi to some friends of the program who reached out via Facebook. Julio from Guatemala, João from Brazil, Alvaro from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Juanpablo from Medellin, Colombia, and Felix from Germany. Thanks to all of you for reaching out, commenting, sending notes. If you’re not connected with us yet, you can find us on Plain English with the user name PlainEnglishPod. That goes for both Facebook and Twitter. PlainEnglishPod.

You can also join our email list. Every Monday and Thursday when a new show comes out I send an email to subscribers summarizing the main topic—summing up the main topic, you might say. I also put an explanation of one more English word or phrase and I put links to the English articles I read to prepare the main content. So if you like the topic, you can read more in English by following those links. If you want to get those emails, it’s really easy, just go to PlainEnglish.com/mail and enter your details. PlainEnglish.com/mail.

¿Hablas español?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into Spanish. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

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Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

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Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

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你说中国话?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Parlez-vous français?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Você fala português?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

日本語は話せますか?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Parli italiano?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Sen Türkçe konuşmayı biliyor musun?

The transcripts of Plain English lessons are available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation. Turkish translations are available starting at Lesson 278.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Mówisz po polsku?

The transcript of Plain English lessons are available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation. Polish translations are available starting at Lesson 278.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

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