A new software patent filing by Microsoft appears to show that the software maker is planning to eradicate annoying workplace habits with software.
A new software patent application, originally filed in May 2010, reveals Microsoft’s grand plans to monitor employee behavior and create scorecards based on their habits. The software would pick up bad habits such as cutting off conference calls early or turning up to meetings late. Todd Bishop at GeekWire discovered the patent on Thursday and notes that video conferences, telephone, text messages and other forms of digital communication would all be monitored.
Microsoft describes its idea in the patent filing:
“[In addition] to an email or voice conversation, other forms of interaction such as gestures, mannerisms, etc. in a video conference may also be analyzed and reported (e.g. nodding one’s head in agreement, shaking one’s head indicating disagreement, hand gestures, and similar ones). Additionally, patterns of communication may also be detected (in addition to distinct phrases or mannerisms).
For example, cutting off others during conversation, prolonged monologues, and comparable ones may be included in the category of behaviors to be discouraged. Similarly, a time of day, or day of week of initiating a conversation and likewise patterns may be of interest to the analysis (e.g. a supervisor calling his supervisees frequently during after hours or at lunch time, or when they are busy may not recognize that habit until shown by the application). The patterns may also be pivoted on the relationship. If an individual calls a direct report during lunch, it can have a stronger negative impact on the score than if they call a peer (though they both may be construed as negative and have a negative score impact). …
As discussed above, scores may be computed based on phrases, as well as gestures, mannerisms, and patterns. Mannerisms may include visual cues such as wearing dark glasses in a video conference, wearing unacceptable clothing to a business meeting, and similar ones.”
It’s not clear whether Microsoft is baking this technology into any current products. The software maker regularly files patents against ideas and software that never makes it out of Redmond’s walls. If this scoring card ever comes to life then it could work like Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE service. Gamers using the Xbox 360 console can rate each other based on their interactions.