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Microsoft’s supposed patent on physiological monitoring

Posted by: on Jan 16, 2008 | No Comments

According to one report, Microsoft has submitted a patent application for a system to monitor the physiological state of users in order to help them.

Microsoft submitted a patent application in the US for a “unique monitoring system” that could link workers to their computers. Wireless sensors could read “heart rate, galvanic skin response, EMG, brain signals, respiration rate, body temperature, movement facial movements, facial expressions and blood pressure”, the application states.

The system could also “automatically detect frustration or stress in the user” and “offer and provide assistance accordingly”. Physical changes to an employee would be matched to an individual psychological profile based on a worker’s weight, age and health. If the system picked up an increase in heart rate or facial expressions suggestive of stress or frustration, it would tell management that he needed help.

I have no idea how true this report is (it sounds fishy and, even if true, unworkable in practice). But the reason we pick up on it, and the reason Drudge gave it a red link last night, is that it just sounds like Microsoft: centrally administrated, intrusive, oriented toward “helping” people before they ask or even if they don’t plan to ask. It’s Clippy the helpful paperclip, but this time he doesn’t just monitor your software activities, he monitors your physiological state. And this time he doesn’t just interrupt your work, he asks your boss to intercede. Or if you want a more recent analogy, it’s like Vista’s security feature, constantly asking if you want to allow or deny an action.

Microsoft seeks patent for office ‘spy’ software – Times Online

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