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Monday, January 21, 2008

Don’t Worry! It’s Only a Terrible Nightmare!

posted by on January 21 at 10:24 AM

Are you looking for a little something snazzy to accessorize those nifty new microchips in your passport and driver’s license? Something clever and colorful to dress up that lovely wall down south? Everyone’s concerned friend Microsoft has just the perfect thing!

Microsoft is developing Big Brother-style software capable of remotely monitoring a worker’s productivity, physical wellbeing and competence…a computer system that links workers to their computers via wireless sensors that measure their metabolism. The system would allow managers to monitor employees’ performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure. Wireless sensors could read “heart rate, galvanic skin response, EMG, brain signals, respiration rate, body temperature, movement facial movements, facial expressions and blood pressure”. The system could “automatically detect frustration or stress in the user” and “offer and provide assistance accordingly”. Physical changes to an employee would be matched to an individual psychological profile based on a worker’s weight, age and health. If the system picked up an increase in heart rate or facial expressions suggestive of stress or frustration, it would tell management that he needed help.

Wow! That actually sounds like fun!

Um…it’s okay…it’s all gonna be okay…this is a dream…it’s isn’t happening…Disneyland…I’m in Dis-ney-laaaaaaand….”


RSS icon Comments


I want one. For myself. Who wouldn't want to keep track of all that for oneself?
Oooh... One for my boyfriend!
Then I will really know who my boyfriend is looking at and just how he feels about it!! YEAH!!

Posted by subwlf | January 21, 2008 10:40 AM

I'm totally appalled that my employer is doing this.

Posted by raindrop | January 21, 2008 10:46 AM
The system could “automatically detect frustration or stress in the user” and “offer and provide assistance accordingly”.

So that stupid little paperclip guy is going to pop up every time I get a little stressed out? Great. Thanks a lot Microsoft.

Posted by keshmeshi | January 21, 2008 10:49 AM

Microsoft is dead.

Posted by Mr. Poe | January 21, 2008 10:53 AM

No, it's not dead Mr. Poe. It's a great corporation making great software. Just some in MS Research are taking themselves too seriously and need to get a grip.

Posted by raindrop | January 21, 2008 11:04 AM

Aren't there easier ways to detect when one's employees are surfing pr0n?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 21, 2008 11:06 AM

This software would be so easy, and so fun, to spoof. Hyperventilate a bit, make angry faces, then relax your face and slow your breating down to a normal rhythm. Do this in cycles every minute or two.

That, or take a hammer to each and every one of the sensors.

Posted by Greg | January 21, 2008 11:20 AM

Oh please. It'll work twice, then repeatedly crash until people give up on it altogether after a hail of squealing and cussing.

It'd only be scary if Apple built it, then hapless, candy-colored marketing-susceptible employees would be begging to have Big Sister's private eyes watch their every move.

Posted by Original Andrew | January 21, 2008 11:22 AM

And after that take a hammer to every middle-management fuck-up who thought stealing your vital signs was a good and bleeding edge idea....

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 21, 2008 11:23 AM


I have a feeling you'd be seeing more of that cute lil' tail-wagging puppy instead!

And you know, I'd be down with this - IF - employees were similarly allowed to monitor their supervisors' biometric data - like for example the drop in pulse rate and BP when said manager is napping at their desk, or the increased stress levels caused when for example they're really buzzing along on that 12th level of Tetris, or, when they're checking their stock portfolio for the twentieth time that day while the market is tanking again.

After all, fair is fair, right?

Posted by COMTE | January 21, 2008 11:34 AM

Bombarded with "your employee is making a face" or "is stressed" a hundred dozen times a day, the average manager would either ignore it, quit, or fire the employee.

Posted by K | January 21, 2008 11:55 AM

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