Don’t give any offensive Facebook status about your boss. Well, we all know that rule. However, if you’re in China, don’t even think anything offensive about your boss. Chinese companies are using a specially designed hat to monitor brainwaves of their workers, then use those data to redesign the workflows and adjust the pace of production.
A report from the South China Morning Post says the companies are using such devices to monitor their employees for depression, any sign of stress that could hamper their workplace performance. If they detect any issue, the employee in question is assigned to a less stressful job or is told to take a day off if the situation is worse.
Enhance worker efficiency
Companies using this technology claim that making use of this tech has a positive impact on the performance of their employees. One of them is Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric, which says it can now adjust the length and number of breaks syncing with the employees’ individual needs.
Besides, some companies are using this tech for training purposes. At Ningbo Shenyang Logistics, trainee employees have to wear special brainwave monitoring helmets integrated into virtual reality devices that simulate different scenarios in the workplace.
Zhao Binjian, one of the company’s manager says that these helmets have significantly reduced the number of mistakes because of the improved understanding between the new workers and the company.
China is not the only country using this technology. In western countries, this technology is being used but for limited and voluntary tasks, such as archery. However, there are some limitations to this technology. It may not work perfectly as over-the-skin brain scanning through EEG is still very limited. The relationship between the signals it detects and human emotion is not clear yet. However, researchers hope that the influx of data will allow them to improve the algorithms of their devices.
Violate employees’ privacy
While the companies are so excited about this technology, employees are pretty worried, and they are somehow right. Employers may abuse their power to violate employees’ privacy.
“There is no law or regulation to limit the use of this kind of equipment in China. The employer may have a strong incentive to use the technology for higher profit, and the employees are usually in too weak a position to say no,” said Professor Qiao Zhian of Beijing Normal University.
“The selling of Facebook data is bad enough. Brain surveillance can take privacy abuse to a whole new level.”
Despite the limitations, this technology is giving the employers in China a new level of power over their employees. Employers are only concerned about the profit of their companies, not the privacy of the employees. And, this is not even logical to reassign or terminate workers because of their perceived emotions.