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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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