This might just be one of the most ridiculous and dystopian things to come out of 2020 which says a lot about the state of the year. Microsoft has filed a patent for an application that serves as an “insight computer system” that’s able to tell how effective a meeting is by monitoring the body language of everyone involved. That’s right, a computer will sit and watch the whole meeting and basically tell on any employees that aren’t paying their fullest attention. The app will be used for the virtual meetings everyone has become so accustomed to but may eventually roll out to physical in-person meetings.
The actual app doesn’t just monitor body language though, it also keeps track of facial expressions, the amount of attendees and even keeps a record of ambient conditions like the weather outside or the time of day the meeting is being had. The core premise is that the app can be used to measure productivity but we all know that employers won’t actually use it like that. They’ll just keep track of that one guy who just plays on his phone the whole time. Of course, that’s basically everyone during a virtual meetings.
No one likes a snitch, Microsoft
Now it should be noted that this is just a patent for the app, meaning that it might never actually see the light of day but if it does, it will be Microsoft that kicks it out the front door. If a physical iteration is ever established, it will include a mixture of cameras and sensors to “track” productivity. It can apparently even predict how meeting is going to be based on those external factors mentioned above.
This kind of “workplace surveillance” is certainly not a great idea but it’s not the first time Microsoft has tried to monitor productivity. Back in October a “Productivity Score” was added to Microsoft 365 which enabled businesses to see how productive members you used the program were. Very shady indeed.