Check this out. The Japanese have developed a mobile phone that can be used as a sort of tracking device for employees.
The BBC reports that the technology comes from the phone company KDDI Corp, who have developed a way to track employee movements using accelerometers and analysis software, and then send the info directly back to the boss.
Employers using the phones to spy on their employees would be able to tell if any of them were slacking or doing anything else for that matter although that’s not quite the way the phone is being marketed.
“Technically, I think this is an incredibly important innovation” says Philip Sugai, director of the mobile consumer lab at the International University of Japan.
“For example, when applied to the issue of telemedicine, or other situations in which remotely monitoring or accessing an individual’s personal movements is vital to that service.
“But there will surely be negative consequences when applied to employee tracking or sales force optimisation.”
KDDI are already in discussions with a Japanese company that wants to make use of the technology and according to KDDI, the purpose of the phone is to allow managers to monitor employees’ performance whilst out on the job.
“It’s part of our research into a total ubiquitous technology society, and activity recognition is an important part of that” said Hiroyuki Yokoyama from KKDI.
“Because this technology will make central monitoring possible with workers at several different locations, businesses especially are very interested in using such technology to improve the efficiency of their workers.
“We are now at a stage where we can offer managers a chance to analyse more closely the behaviour of staff.”
Is it ethical or is it just another invasion of privacy?
“Of course there are privacy issues and any employers should really enter into an agreement with employees before using such a system” Mr Yokoyama told BBC News.
“But this is not about curtailing employees’ rights to privacy. We’d rather like to think our creation more of a caring, mothering system rather than a Big Brother approach to watching over citizens.”
Not everyone sees it that way though, Kazuo Hizumi, a leading human rights lawyer told BBC News “It beggars believe that a prominent company such as KDDI could come up with such a surveillance system. It’s totally irresponsible”.
Is this what we call progress?