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Japanese phonemaker KDDI has figured out how to use accelerometers to track what employees are doing. Big corporations may soon be watching you in the future.  (Source: Funponsel)
New system will allow your boss to spy on what you're doing at all times, measure how busy you are at work

In Japan, "Big Brother" has been replaced by big corporations.  In the land of the rising sun, powerful corporations like Toyota, Honda, Sony, and Nintendo command enormous power and control over their employees.  Companies in many cases go so far as to provide arranged marriages for single workers and housing for employees.  The price of such personal attention, however, is a level of scrutiny that most people here in the U.S. would find unsettling.

Japanese phone giant KDDI has just given employers a new means to scrutinize their employees, unveiling a new smartphone platform that allows companies to monitor cell phones' accelerometers and track what their employees are doing.  

KDDI will offer the phones, presumably to companies would make them mandatory for workers.  The phone firmware sends logs of accelerometer data to a central database for processing.  KDDI has identified patterns for common activities like walking, climbing stairs, or even cleaning.  Even precise cleaning activities like scrubbing, sweeping, or emptying waste baskets can be picked up.

Combined with GPS tracking, the platform could give employers an unprecedented and largely automated way to cheaply and efficiently track workers and digitally snoop on their performance.

Describes Philip Sugai, director of the mobile consumer lab at the International University of Japan, "Technically, I think this is an incredibly important innovation.  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 salesforce optimization."

While medical applications seem quite promising, KDDI plans to primarily try to sell the service as to managers, foremen and employment agencies looking to snoop on workers.  Hiroyuki Yokoyama, head of web data research at KKDI's research labs in Tokyo describes, "It's part of our research into a total ubiquitous technology society, and activity recognition is an important part of that.  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 analyze more closely the behavior of staff."

He says the system does not violate workers' privacy rights.  He states, "Of course there are privacy issues and any employers should really enter into an agreement with employees before using such a system.  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."

Kazuo Hizumi, a leading human rights lawyer in Japan is among those unsettled by the technology, though, and doesn't think there's anything "mothering" about it.  He states, "This is treating people like machines, like so many cattle to be monitored and watched over.  New technology should be used to improve our lives not to spy on us.  It beggars belief that a prominent company such as KDDI could come up with such a surveillance system. It's totally irresponsible.  I'm afraid ordinary citizens don't care about this lack of rights. Consequently because of technology like this, Japan is heading for the Dark Ages."

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RE: Patterns for common activities
By Aloonatic on 3/11/2010 8:54:13 PM , Rating: 4
It really is not as complicated as you think, and it doesn't need this level of monitoring, if mangers/you are doing your jobs properly that is. If you want motivated employees who do their jobs properly too, there are far better ways of doing it than trying to turn them into heavily monitored machines. The worse you treat people, the poorer their conditions, the more they are to slack, or rebel in some other way. This sort of tech is just a cheap solution to a problem that would/should be handled better.

Your traffic/motel situation could easily be checked these days by monitoring the roads o the internet or some other means too, without having to resort to this level of personal monitoring. Vehicle monitoring is something that is different to what this article is about anyway, as this is monitoring actual people and what they are doing in far greater detail.

You may well be someone's employee too. Do you work 100% of the time available to you while your at work, and be as productive as it is possible for you to be? The 2 things are often not the same, or possible to achieve. You might spend a few minutes a day on DT and other web sites, but what your boss might also find is that you are actually more productive in the allotted time because of it, compared to you being monitored and check on all the time, so you can't have a quick peek and discuss articles on here.

Also, People NEED jobs. 1 company employs this tech, other probably will too. Even then, the real world isn't as simple as "just get another job". Many people can be FORCED by their employer too, in the real world, to do certain things that they shouldn't. But as I said, many people here probably don't care, or even think it's a problem because they are just blue-collar bozos, so have less rights.

Anyway, that wasn't the point that I'm making. I'm saying that if you treat a large number of the population like this, then you are just putting yourself in the firing line later on. If your government wanted to, they may well find some excuse to do this to you. As you are already treating people like this in your work place, why would those people do anything to stop it from happening to you? It also makes it harder (only harder, not imopssible/that you can't) for you to argue against it further down the line. That it isn't you being affected by this right now, or tomorrow, doesn't mean that you will not be later on.

RE: Patterns for common activities
By porkpie on 3/11/2010 9:45:54 PM , Rating: 2
" it doesn't need this level of monitoring, if mangers/you are doing your jobs properly that is."

If people always did their job properly, there would be no need for managers. Technology like this can allow a company to hire fewer managers per employee, which results in higher productivity and lower costs. Ultimately, that's good for all of us.

"Vehicle monitoring is something that is different to what this article is about "

Only in degree, not in kind. And as I recall, many people complained about employee vehicle monitoring when it first came out too. Yet most large firms use it now to some degree, and the world hasn't collapsed as a result.

"People NEED jobs. "

It's not a company's responsibility to give you a job because you "need" it. And if you can't find a job that appeals to your sense of personal freedom, I suggest you do what millions of entrepreneurs have already done, and start your own company.

If you ever do, and find your own employees slacking off on YOUR money, I strongly suspect your opinions will change somewhat.

RE: Patterns for common activities
By MadMan007 on 3/11/10, Rating: 0
RE: Patterns for common activities
By porkpie on 3/11/2010 11:31:11 PM , Rating: 1
Since I own the company, they probably do.

In any case, I spend less time than you think...typing at nearly 100wpm helps.

RE: Patterns for common activities
By ekv on 3/12/2010 3:05:54 AM , Rating: 2
Lol 8)

I was curious about that.

For some reason you remind me of T. J. Rodgers....

RE: Patterns for common activities
By siuol11 on 3/12/2010 4:21:47 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure that they really appreciate a diligent boss, and your company totally won't be sued for an invasion of privacy when you invariably use such a system for your own personal gain.
Oh, and if you didn't grasp the concept, that's the other 50% of why so many people dislike such systems- they are so ripe for abuse.

RE: Patterns for common activities
By Kurz on 3/12/2010 10:26:59 AM , Rating: 2
Damn I wonder how working for Porkpie would be.
Would I be able to go to daily tech?

Still 100 wpm... I top off at 50 wpm.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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