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Microsoft Patents Office Spy Technology

Microsoft is seeking to patent a technology that will allow computers to be link, via wireless sensors, to workers to measure their metabolism.

The patent application, which was seen by The Times (opens in new tab), would allow managers "to monitor employees’ performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure.", which would not be unlike the lie detector used in cop series and spy movies.

The system would also “automatically detect frustration or stress in the user” and “offer and provide assistance accordingly”, which according to some (opens in new tab), is a blatant violation of an individual privacy.

In another article, The Times (opens in new tab) goes into more details on how the system would work: the system, which works indiscriminately on a laptop, mobile phone or desktop, would record and analyse what words and numbers are used and what websites or pages are visited.

According to the notes, face recognition as well as breathing and heart rate would also be taken into account to provide with a benchmark for "normal physiological readings" based on someone's behaviour and body type.

The killer aspect (opens in new tab) though has to be the fact that this data would be collected over a long period of time and there are "fears" that this technology would help managers monitor "workers' competence and productivity" too closely.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.