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Like it or not, data collection technology is pervasive. Your online activities and purchases are tracked. Your travels are monitored, and your location history is stored. Cameras regularly capture your image in public places. Now, technology recently patented by Microsoft for the stated purpose of improving meeting efficiency in the workplace may soon be monitoring the effectiveness of your behaviour at work. The collected data is then used to evaluate meeting participants' body language and analyze the data collected to determine whether or not they are making significant contributions to the meetings they attend. Although this technology is still in its infancy and there are currently no indications of when, or even if, Microsoft plans to make it available for deployment in the workplace, concerns have been raised that it crosses a line and that, if widely implemented, it could result in changes that will negatively impact a significant percentage of the working population.

How It Works

Using sensors, cameras, and software algorithms, Microsoft's "Meeting Insight Computing System" (MICS) will collect data on each meeting participant's body language, expressions, and participation level. MICS will also track how much time attendees spend on activities that are not meeting-related, such as texting or reading email. For remote meeting participants, MICS factors in whether or not they activate their cameras. The system will also take environmental factors into consideration, including the temperature and level of noise in a meeting room. Meeting time is also considered. A hot meeting room, a room with a distracting level of noise, or a meeting running into lunch hour could affect the attendees' levels of participation.

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