Microsoft is patenting technology to wirelessly monitor a worker's productivity.
Microsoft is developing a device capable of monitoring a range of physiological changes in workers, including heart rate, brain signals, facial expressions and respiration.
Intriguingly, the device also monitors galvanic skin response which is one of the measurements used by polygraph machines in lie detector tests.
Microsoft says that the goal of all this technology is to "automatically detect frustration or stress in the user" and "offer and provide assistance accordingly." The patent then goes on to describe what kind of assistance the system might be instructed to dole out.
"Assistance can be in the form of answering questions, providing guidance to the user as the user completes the activity, or completing the activity such as in the case of taking on an assigned activity."
Essentially then, to build a computer that ensures a worker is doing their job and let somebody know if they're doing it badly. The patent also describes a method of storing the collected information for later study and comparison.
Privacy advocates are predictably unimpressed.
"There could well be privacy and human rights issues surrounding a system like this," says Chris Boyle, head of employment law at Napthens solicitors.
"If an employee doesn't agree to the technology being used, and it is imposed on them, it could firstly be a breach of the terms of their employment contract. How likely would it be for an employee to agree in the first place?"
"If an employer wanted to discipline someone at work based on readings from a system like this, it could be argued the results could simply not be relied upon for such a purpose."
"Privacy is a top priority for Microsoft," the company responds. "Protecting privacy makes good business sense and we are committed to making sure our customers feel safe whenever they do business with us."
find the full patent here...
sorry, but that is the most Orwellian thing I have seen since the Real ID act, i'm actually offended that people think that is a viable use for technology...