Feeds

Microsoft readies Hal 9000

The corporate lie detector

High performance access to file storage

It gives a whole new meaning to the word "micromanager."

Judging from a recent patent application, Microsoft hopes to build some sort of "activity monitoring system" that keeps an eye on worker productivity using various "physiological or environmental sensors." These sensors would track everything from heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature, facial expressions, and blood pressure to brain signals and galvanic skin response.

Yes, galvanic skin response is what drives a lie detector.

Redmond sees this system as a way for companies and, um, governments to monitor "group activities." "In particular, the system can monitor user activity, detect when users need assistance with their specific activities, and identify at least one other user that can assist them," the patent application reads, in classic patent speak. "Assistance can be in the form of answering questions, providing guidance to the user as the user completes the activity, or completing the activity such as in the case of taking on an assigned activity."

In other words: If you don't do your duty, the system will make sure your duties are assigned to someone else.

The system is designed to provide its unique brand of "assistance" as workers slave away on various computing devices, including desktops, laptops, and cell phones. But it doesn't just track your physical use of such devices. It also monitors things like "frustration and stress."

And it always knows whether you can handle this frustration and stress. "Baseline or 'normal' parameters for each user can be established in view of the fact that different body types and sizes and personalities can display different physical, mental, and emotional responses to similar situations," the patent application continues. "For example, an elevated heart rate during tax return preparation may be considered normal for one user and not an indication that help is needed but for another user, the inverse may be true."

Plus, all this personal information is safely stored away for future use. According to Microsoft, that's a good thing. "The system can aggregate activity data across users and/or devices. As a result, problems with activity templates or activities themselves can be more readily identified, user performance can be readily compared, and users can communicate and exchange information regarding similar activity experiences."

If you ask us, we'd feel safer under the care of the Hal 9000. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.