Employee ID Badge That Monitors And Listens To You At Work

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Would you work for a company that monitors and listens to your every word at work? Thankfully this company was smart enough to allow people to opt out of this program but still, what a boneheaded idea.

A Boston company has taken technology developed at MIT and turned it into special badges that hang around your neck on a lanyard. Each has two microphones doing real-time voice analysis, and each comes with sensors that follow where you are in the office, with motion detectors to record how much you move. The beacons tracking your movements are omitted from bathroom locations, to give you some privacy.
 

NeoNemesis

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On the one hand, this sort of seems like it could develop into a Star Trek style comm badge, which is great.

On the other hand, this is going to be used to make firing/hiring decisions, which is scary.
 

spugm1r3

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This is workplace efficiency gone wrong. I can guarantee this ends being used to tell us what we already know, as a means to trim the already non-existent "fat" from the workforce.

While I think there could probably be some interesting material that could come out of this kind of monitoring, this definitely spurs the "can we/should we" conversation. The answer is no, no we should not.
 
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M76

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He who is eavesdropping will always hear bad things about himself.

It's a stupid idea, and it's asking for trouble. We can't seem to identify any problems so let's go witchhunting!
 

Poseur

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Where I work, we have security cameras. We do not have people that sit and watch the cameras. The footage mostly goes to waste, but it's there just in case something happens. It takes time and effort to actually sort through that. That means it costs money. So, it doesn't get done unless it needs to be done.

If they had these badges at my job, they'd get hours of machine noise and music, mixed with a little chit chat and business talk. I can see it being a really good idea for a problem employee, but there's still the assumption that whoever listens to the results gets paid less and has the authority to listen.
 

McDork

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It almost sounds like some sort of Slavery, being forced to wear something around your neck in order to put food on the table.
 

raz-0

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Holy shit this is stupid on so many levels.

1) Now this shit is on the table as discoverable. Be it court, iso auditors, etc. ANYTHING you fudge a little bit and get by on is now subject to being found out. Most of the time that shit is being done to benefit the bottom line of the company. Case in point, I have yet to hear of a single iso9000 audit outside a manufacturing line that wasn't successful without shit tons of bullshit. This is usually discussed. That shit would be on record.

2) There is no possible upside. Having someone police shit going on to optimize behavior assumes that someone actually knows the right answer to optimizing behavior and that there is a universal fit. You don't.

3) This WILL be used to micro manage. Micro managing has never, EVER, done anything but made shit worse.

4) This WILL kick the shit out of morale. Ask anyone who has worked a high volume call center. Being on the hook for every word out of your mouth every minute of every day results in a shit ton of churn. If your business can't afford turning over your staff multiple times a year, this shit will be like dumping gasoline on your company and lighting up a match.
 

schizrade

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That cool, cause your laptop, desktop, cell phone and everything else in you office is listening to you anyway...
 
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thesmokingman

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Those concerned about their privacy might be alarmed by the arrival of such badges. But Humanyze says it doesn’t record the content of what people say, just how they say it. And the boss doesn’t get to look at individuals’ personal data.
Right... we can totally believe that since they said so.
 

Nenu

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Guys, we've all been missing whats really happening here.
This is the start of the communication revolution whos technology will evolve into the Startrek Communicator.
It wont be long before money and belongings become superfluous.
The Large Hadron Collider will uncover instant transportation...
Its all coming together :D

edit.
Ah Damn, missed post 5
 

sadsteve

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How many people actually volunteered to wear these (not coerced)? I know I wouldn't. I also think they'd get tired of hearing me say "f**king morons" as often as I do. Especially when talking about management decisions. :)

I do have a plan if these were mandated. As an embedded systems engineer who works on audio/telecom equipment, I'd just have to do some long term testing on some TTY decoding/encoding algorithms I've developed (after I insert my earplugs). The TTY terminals I have to test against are all rather load. This plan is also good for combating the 'open office plan' that some of the managers have been talking about (insert above quoted string here)..
 

DrLobotomy

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But it is OK that the police have to wear them with a camera. It records what they say. It sees what they see. We want them ALL to wear them. But when YOU have to wear one it is heresy.

So funny.

With that said, the NSA and quite a few others can already do that with your phone which is in your pocket.
 

raz-0

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That cool, cause your laptop, desktop, cell phone and everything else in you office is listening to you anyway...
Can, if someone abuses it and puts in huge effort is one thing.

Making it corporate policy and a management tool is another.
 

raz-0

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But it is OK that the police have to wear them with a camera. It records what they say. It sees what they see. We want them ALL to wear them. But when YOU have to wear one it is heresy.

So funny.

With that said, the NSA and quite a few others can already do that with your phone which is in your pocket.
We also give the police the right to use force, deadly force even, without the same repercussions as everyone else. With qualified immunity comes certain expectations. Had they, as a group, not gone to total shit on remaining anywhere near those expectations, they wouldn't be getting the monitoring treatment.

It's not the same, not even remotely.
 

Darunion

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But it is OK that the police have to wear them with a camera. It records what they say. It sees what they see. We want them ALL to wear them. But when YOU have to wear one it is heresy.

So funny.

With that said, the NSA and quite a few others can already do that with your phone which is in your pocket.
I think public workers that are in a position for violent and deadly encounters on either side, is a lot more needing of recording more than who took the last cup of coffee or stole a pack of pens. Apples and oranges
 

DrLobotomy

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I think public workers that are in a position for violent and deadly encounters on either side, is a lot more needing of recording more than who took the last cup of coffee or stole a pack of pens. Apples and oranges
You have never met 'Gary' from HR have you??
 

CanonicalAbstract

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But.....but, if your not doing anything wrong you have nothing to hide :sneaky:
Pretty much this. Though at the same time, I have seen my experiences where I could be doing something right, and somehow construed as wrong. But I chalk it all up to politics and technicalities.
 

steakman1971

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TK421 - why aren't you at your post?
I know a lot of people that have monitoring software on their laptops that capture your screen and even periodically use your video camera to make sure you are actually in front of your laptop. It's the price to pay for "work at home" for some people.
 

breal1

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I'm sure the company offered some sort of incentive to opt in. Preferred parking up front. Extra GPT days. A glowing annual review.......
 

Spidey329

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This company will likely find out that micro-managing at this level is counter-productive and hurts workplace moral.

Seriously, this takes micro-managing to a whole new level. On the flip side, you have modern tech companies who allow their employees greater freedom but actually get more out of them because of it.
 

Seventyfive

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The hedge fund Bridgewater records basically everything that happens in their office so they can either go back to hear what an employee said if they contradicted themselves as well as to protect themselves from accusations of insider trading. So I can imagine there are companies who would actively use this technology.
 

MrAgmoore

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I was working in a restaurant on the weekend. Two guys almost had a fistfight twice ( in the kitchen ). They obviously didn't care about the surveillance camera a few inches above them. Shitty work environment. Fire them. It's not all bad.
 

jevans64

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The management where I work would have a field day with this tech. They don't micro-manage, they sub-atomic particle manage there.
 

Retronym

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Management loves to talk about work instead of actually doing work. This is just the natural progression.
 

nightfly

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I also think they'd get tired of hearing me say "f**king morons" as often as I do.
Mine is, "What kind of an idiot thought this [fill in the blank] was actually a good idea?". Apparently I said it about so many things at work that DIDN'T work, it caught on and became sort of the department slogan, just shortened to 'what kind of an idiot' while shaking their head back and forth in frustration. If it could be built wrong, it was build wrong. If it could be installed wrong, it was installed wrong. Hot water on the wrong side of the sink, faucets mislabeled, the handles turning into the wall so they only give a dribble, computer monitors with lights installed right behind the user so there's constant glare, doors that open in when they should open out. There were so many hysterical design flaws that I could have filled a book with pics, but the hospital has a policy of no pictures (HIPPA rules, of course). One summer when the central A/C went out, they actually bought a dozen of those individual air conditioners on wheels with the 4" diameter hoses (that are meant to vent outdoors) and funneled the vent hose into the drop ceiling....where the hot air came right back down at the nearest vent. And then not only the maintenance people, but the administrators came down looking puzzeled about why it was still so hot in the room, since we had so many air conditioners going 24/7. It's now spread; I overheard another nurse say it while trying to get a paper towel out of a dispenser that had been bolted onto the wall only an inch above the side of the sink so you couldn't get your hand under the thing to pull it out. Why? For people in wheelchairs, the maintenance guy decided the dispenser should be very low so they could reach it (same dunce seems to get around, you could find several of this exact same installation in various parts of the hospital). But didn't think about where the bottom of the dispenser was facing. It's been like that for about three years now. Worse? The emergency eye wash, you know, those pointing up double things on the faucets that you turn on the faucet and pull the little thing so the water sprays up into your eyes if you get something in them? They then went ahead and installed motion detectors on all the faucets. So if you get something in your eye, you have to go hold the little knob out and wildly wave at the sensor in hopes that it will turn the water on for it's six seconds and save your vision. Stayed that way for almost 5 years, until the state inspectors finally came through and someone mentioned it to them. Boy were the administrators furious about being embarrassed by that fubar setup.

So, we got ID's with chips in them so they could increase security, always a good idea at a hospital, making it a simple way to restrict unauthorized access to sensitive areas. But it turned out that they were keeping a log of where everyone had gone. Including the doctors and administrators. Needless to say, the docs didn't like that, and after a very, very short time, many of the electronic locks were mysteriously disabled or just removed, in areas where physicians and administrators could easily be tracked by security. After one notable person was literally caught with his pants down on the doc's parking lot cam, that camera too, turned out to be 'defective', and the security guards were simply told to look out into the lot from their guard shack more often (the camera was mounted up on a light pole about 20 feet up, and rotated, so they could see when someone was in a car, and what they were doing in the car). Another, one of the doctor's on call rooms (where the night doc's sleep when they're not busy) seemed to be accessed by a certain administrator and a female technician oddly at about the same times within minutes of each other, coming and going (pun intended), staying for approximately the same amount of time, at about the same time of day on a pretty regular schedule. Of course, word got around, and said administrator got the nickname 'slick willy' (yeah, like Clinton) among the employees. Eventually that got back to him, and another security measure went by the wayside. We have a new owner now, so things have changed a bit. But most of the screw ups are still in place, only they're screwed down so tight that most will never get fixed.
 
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