Microsoft has filed a patent for a system to monitor the health and mental state of computer users.
The patent, filed yesterday, outlines a system that checks the computer use of an employee, for example, by logging actions such as web pages visited or words typed.
The system matches the actions in real time with heart rate, breathing, body temperature, facial expressions and blood pressure via wireless sensors.
"The system can automatically detect frustration or stress in the user via physiological and environmental sensors, and offer or provide some assistance accordingly," the patent application reads, according to The Times.
"From this data, statistics related to performance, success rate, frequency of problem, and the like, can be provided to users or can be employed to gauge a target user's success, performance or efficiency with respect to other users."
The patent is over 10 pages long and covers a variety of uses. Details of the application include a monitoring system that would let groups of users monitor each other on social networking sites.
The patent application also suggests monitoring people for longer periods to determine who would be most suitable for particular jobs by identifying apparent strengths and weaknesses.
Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, told The Times that employers considering such technology need to be very careful.
"Our research into employees shows that where individuals feel they are under
excessive monitoring or surveillance they tend to have a negative attitude
towards their employer and are therefore less likely to be motivated and
committed," he said.
Microsoft also envisages building the system mobile phones and PDAs so that people can be monitored constantly.
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