Microsoft patent application could monitor worker habits

Could a software program determine if an employee at work has good or bad habits? That's the possible interpretation of a newly revealed application by Microsoft to the US Patent and Trademark Office. As reported by Geekwire, the idea behind the patent proposal is that the monitoring of an employee's interactions with others via phone, email, text messages and more could be categorized by a computer program. That program could then generate a score based on pre-determined parameters for each employee.

The proposal would even extend to video conferences. The application claims that gestures from employees during the conference could be monitored and interpreted by the program. Likewise, other factors such as what a team member wears to work could be categorized by the proposal software program and raise or lower an employee's overall score. As with other patent applications there's no word if Microsoft actually has such software in development.

This kind of software idea also brings forth lots of questions about privacy in the workplace. If an employee knows that even his or her hand gestures during a meeting could be interpreted as a negative by some cold PC application, that person might have some second thoughts about working there in the future. There's also the question of how this software would determine what is a good or bad habit in the workplace and if it allows for exceptions. For example, wearing a tie and suit might be acceptable to the program but what if an employee dresses up for Halloween for an office party?

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17 Comments

This sounds horrible, what exactly is wrong with evaluations as they currently are? Sure they aren't perfect but literally having every part of your behaviour analysed sounds cold and detrimental to personnel moral.

Enron said,
I guess this isn't good news for people who like to play Solitaire at work.

No I don't think so! It the application works on gestures, then it would think you are working (moving the mouse around + clicking).

This is EXACTLY what businesses need, with so many idiots who set and play at the computer all day!! Sure, it sounds like this program would need some tweaking and employers using some common sense, but otherwise, a FANTASTIC idea!!

I saw a thing a few days ago about younger people NOT wanting to work for someone because they wouldn't be allowed to use Facebook. I almost puked, right then!!

As great as the internet is and all that good crap, there is a time and place for it and work ISN'T one of them!!

cork1958 said,
I saw a thing a few days ago about younger people NOT wanting to work for someone because they wouldn't be allowed to use Facebook. I almost puked, right then!!

There is one flaw though with not allowing Facebook at work that most business fail to get, a lot of people have smartphones, they just check Facebook through their smartphones which is a lot slower because you are doing it over a 3G signal (majority of people). Even more time is wasted.

cork1958 said,
This is EXACTLY what businesses need, with so many idiots who set and play at the computer all day!! Sure, it sounds like this program would need some tweaking and employers using some common sense, but otherwise, a FANTASTIC idea!!

I saw a thing a few days ago about younger people NOT wanting to work for someone because they wouldn't be allowed to use Facebook. I almost puked, right then!!

As great as the internet is and all that good crap, there is a time and place for it and work ISN'T one of them!!

The people in the article were excellent students who had multiple job offers. Your employer has demands on you, why not have demands for your employer? Just because you're getting paid doesn't meant that work conditions should be a sweatshop. By an employer being a bit lax it can create a much more comfortable work environment and a much happier place to work.

You spend more time with people at work than with your own family (50-60 a week, 50 weeks a year) there is no benefit to anyone to make it worse than it needs to be. Well, other than adhering to archaic business practices.

WhatWarning said,

There is one flaw though with not allowing Facebook at work that most business fail to get, a lot of people have smartphones, they just check Facebook through their smartphones which is a lot slower because you are doing it over a 3G signal (majority of people). Even more time is wasted.

That isn't a flaw, if you can't perform your duties because you're on your mobile all day updating crap... enjoy your wait in the unemployment line. Don't want to work for a company that protects its network from the rats nest that is social networks, enjoy waiting for a job offer. If you want to get paid and have a job, enjoy working for a company and adhering to their policies.

One caveat... there are some legit uses of social networks in the business. For those, get approval and be added to the proper security groups to get access. Don't be an idiot though, they will track where that virus or mal/spy/adware came from and your ID will appear.

cork1958 said,
I saw a thing a few days ago about younger people NOT wanting to work for someone because they wouldn't be allowed to use Facebook. I almost puked, right then!!

You puked and I lost a little faith in our future.

zeke009 said,
That isn't a flaw, if you can't perform your duties because you're on your mobile all day updating crap... enjoy your wait in the unemployment line. Don't want to work for a company that protects its network from the rats nest that is social networks, enjoy waiting for a job offer. If you want to get paid and have a job, enjoy working for a company and adhering to their policies.

One caveat... there are some legit uses of social networks in the business. For those, get approval and be added to the proper security groups to get access. Don't be an idiot though, they will track where that virus or mal/spy/adware came from and your ID will appear.

Well I've been using Facebook for a long time on my work computer. I use it through an SSH tunnel which allows me to get access. I'm still not fired and I have had my job for 6 years now.

I would love to be analyzed based on my gestures, posture and most especially; the way I dress!

I would never be employed if this application was used at any company I was applying to.

Judging others based on appearance is one of the worst human 'traits' in existence; we don't need a computer doing an even worse job for us.

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