Österlund first became aware of micro chipping technology several years after Warwick’s project, when his friend made a copy of his dog’s chip and implanted it under his own skin. They were both part of the body modification scene in Sweden and frequently experimented with new techniques, such as branding and septum piercing.
“The dog chip was kind of a practical joke, so that when my friend went to the vet he could be identified as his own pet labrador, or whatever, But the idea of doing something more with implants stuck with me.”
In 2013, Österlund stumbled upon a German company selling industrial-grade microchips online. Unlike the chips used in pets, which can only transmit a single identification number, these devices were enabled with a communications protocol called NFC, which can be programmed to perform simple tasks.
Österlund ordered a batch and wrote a basic program that paired his Samsung 5 to the microchip, so that it would automatically call his wife when he picked up the phone. On the first implant attempt, Österlund accidentally broke the tiny fuse in the chip while sterilizing it. But the second attempt stuck – when he touched his phone, it automatically triggered a call to his wife.
“It was like my body was online, It was my very own Johnny Mnemonic moment.”
Excited, Österland reached out to a friend called Hannes Sjöblad, who was associated with the transhumanist community in Sweden. Sjöblad was impressed with Österland’s experiment and invited him to hold a demonstration at Epicenter, a tech-focused co-working space in Stockholm where Sjöblad was the “chief disruption officer”.