Feeds

Microsoft readies Hal 9000

The corporate lie detector

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Post-Microsoft, post-PC programming: The portable REVOLUTION
Code jockeys: count up and grab your fabulous tablets
Twitter App Graph exposes smartphone spyware feature
You don't want everyone to compile app lists from your fondleware? BAD LUCK
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.