Mobile-Sensing System Constantly Tracks Workers’ Performance

Using smartphones, fitness bracelets and a custom app, researchers in the U.S. have...

Image: Fitbit

Using smartphones, fitness bracelets and a custom app, researchers in the U.S. have created a mobile-sensing system that tracks employee performance. The system works by monitoring physical, emotional and behavioral well-being of workers.

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This new system opens up possibilities for wearable technology to help workers optimize their performance while at the same time allow companies to evaluate how employees are doing in their jobs. The approach can be both a complement and alternative to traditional performance tools like interviews and self-evaluations.

The research team includes Dartmouth University computer science professor Andrew Campbell, whose earlier work on a student monitoring app provided the underlying technology for this system. He believes this is a positive gateway to improving worker productivity, reports TechCrunch.

“This is a radically new approach to evaluating workplace performance using passive sensing data from phones and wearables,” said Campbell. “Mobile sensing and machine learning might be the key to unlocking the best from every employee.”

Image: Pixabay

This is how the system works

  • A smartphone monitors physical activity, location, phone usage and ambient light
  • A wearable fitness tracker monitors heart functions, sleep, stress, and body measurements like weight and calorie consumption
  • Location beacons are placed in the home and office provide information on time at work and breaks from the desk
  • Cloud-based machine learning algorithms are then used to classify workers by performance level

According to the researchers, when compared to interviews and self-evaluations, which can be subjective, the system can measure workers’ performances more objectively, and the results are more reliable.

The study found that great performers typically did not use their phone too often, had longer periods of deep sleep and were more physically active.

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Using this technology to monitor workers has been of great concern to not only privacy experts but also labor advocates. However, their concern has not made companies stop incentivizing their workers to put on fitness track in return for benefits like savings for insurance. Besides, Startups have popped up to offer even more ways to track employees.

Meanwhile, the researchers suggest that while their system of continuous monitoring via wearables and other devices is not yet available, it could be coming in the next few years.

Sam Draper
August 1, 2019

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