The brain activities of employees work at the Chinese firms are reportedly being monitored in factories, state-owned enterprises, and the military across China. An example of it Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric were employees wear caps or helmets equipped with lightweight, wireless sensors.
These small wireless sensors embedded in employees’ that hats help to monitor brainwaves. That brainwave data is then analyzed by AI to tell when an employee is tired, anxious, or even full of rage.
These sensors are have been developed through government-backed projects. The company said it could increase the overall efficiency of workers by manipulating the frequency & length of break times to reduce mental stress. As per South China Morning Post companies have been using this kind of tech from 2014.
Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric is just one example of the large-scale application of brain surveillance devices to monitor people’s emotions and other mental activities in the workplace.
State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power in the southeast city of Hangzhou claims that by using the brain-monitoring technology their profits have increased by $315 million since rolling it out way back in 2014.
Cheng Jingzhou, the official who oversees the program of State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power, said “there is no doubt about its effect,” and brain data helps the 40,000-strong firm work to higher standards.
The company & its employees manage power supply & distribution network to homes & businesses across province, task that Cheng said they were able to do to with higher standards thanks to the surveillance tech.
Zhao Binjian, a manger of Ningbo Shenyang Logistics, said the company was using the devices mainly to train new employees and make them skillful. He further said that the brain sensors were integrated into virtual reality headsets to simulate different scenarios in the work environment.
“It has significantly reduced the number of mistakes made by our workers,” Zhao said, because of “improved understanding” between the employees and company.
The technology is in widespread use around the world but China has applied it on an unprecedented scale in factories, public transport, state-owned companies, and the military to increase the competitiveness of its manufacturing industry and to maintain social stability.
According to the SCMP, more than a dozen businesses and China’s military have used a different program developed by the government-funded brain surveillance project Neuro Cap, based out of Ningbo University.
“After a while they got used to the device… They wore it all day at work.” Jin also said that employees’ brainwaves can be enough for managers to send them home.
“When the system issues a warning, the manager asks the worker to take a day off or move to a less critical post. Some jobs require high concentration. There is no room for a mistake.”
The technology is also being used in medicine.
Ma Huajuan, a doctor at the Changhai Hospital in Shanghai, said the facility was working with Fudan University to develop a more sophisticated version of the tech to monitor a patient’s emotions and prevent violent incidents.
In addition to the cap, a special camera captures a patient’s facial expression and body temperature. There is also an array of pressure sensors planted under the bed to monitor shifts in body movement.
“Together this different information can give a more precise estimate of the patient’s mental status,” she said.
These sensors, built in the brim of the driver’s hat, could measure various types of brain activities, including fatigue and attention loss with an accuracy of more than 90 percent, according to the companies.
If the driver dozed off, for instance, the cap would trigger an alarm in the cabin to wake him up
Qiao Zhian, professor of management psychology at Beijing Normal University, said that while the devices could make businesses more competitive the technology could also be abused by companies to control minds and infringe privacy, raising the specter of “thought police”.
Thought police were the secret police in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, who investigated and punished people for personal and political thoughts not approved of by the authorities.
“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,” he said.
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