Microsoft developing technology that allows employers to monitor body language of employees during staff meetings

by Peter Heck · Dec 1st, 2020 8:40 am
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Last Updated Dec 2nd, 2020 at 12:29 pm

Tech giant Microsoft has patented a new form of technology designed to monitor the body language and facial expressions of employees during company meetings. Utilizing cameras and sensors, the "meeting insight computing system" would allow companies to gauge the level of engagement they are getting from workers during staff meetings.

Personal electronic devices coupled with cameras will expose "how much a participant contributes to a meeting vs. performing other tasks (e.g., texting, checking email, browsing the Internet)."

The patent application suggests that the technology can help put an end to meetings "that are unproductive at best."

"Many organizations are plagued by overly long, poorly attended, and recurring meetings that could be modified and/or avoided if more information regarding meeting quality was available," the application reads.

But this new technology coupled with Microsoft's recent "productivity score" marketed to employers to monitor employees has drawn criticism from some experts.

"This normalizes extensive workplace surveillance in a way not seen before," researcher Wolfie Christl said. "This is so problematic at many levels. … Not least, Microsoft gets the power to define highly arbitrary metrics that will potentially affect the daily lives of millions of employees and even shape how organizations function."


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