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Microsoft envisions ‘scoring’ meetings based on body language

Microsoft has filed a patent for a system to monitor employees’ body language and facial expressions during work meetings and give the events a “quality score”. A filing suggests it could be deployed in real-world meetings or online virtual get-togethers. It envisions rooms being packed with sensors to monitor the participants, which could raise privacy concerns.

The technology could apply to both virtual and (eventually) in-person meetings, and would use a mix of cameras and sensors for physical gatherings. It would even predict the likelihood of a useful meeting and suggest alternative times, locations and people if a meet-up was likely to flop.

This is just a patent application, and there’s no certainty that Microsoft will ever adopt the technology. GeekWire added that there aren’t any mentions of privacy protections, and that a Microsoft 365 “Productivity Score” feature introduced in October has drawn criticisms for allegedly enabling workplace surveillance. Microsoft would have to protect privacy and reassure workers that they won’t be fired for checking their text messages.

The application does line up with Microsoft’s increasing use of AI and other technologies to streamline the workplace, though. And if Microsoft can address the outstanding issues, this could be a useful tool for managers that want to improve their meetings — or better yet, avoid superfluous meetings altogether.

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