Sydney, January 18 : Microsoft is developing software that may help employers to monitor the productivity, competence and physical well-being of employees while sitting at a distance.
The software will even reveal when an employee is stressed or frustrated by reading his/her heartbeat and facial expressions.
A patent application filed by the company reveals that the whole process will be based on a computer system that links workers to their computers through wireless sensors that measures their metabolism.
The system will be able to measure workers' heart rate, body temperature, brain signals, movement, facial expression and blood pressure.
However, civil liberties groups and privacy lawyers are criticising this project, voicing concerns that it may lead to employees' dismissal on the basis of a computers assessment of their physiological state.
"Imposing this level of intrusion on employees could only be justified in exceptional circumstances," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Britain's Information Commissioners Office as telling The Times.
Microsoft, which does not generally comment on the progress of its projects, has said in a statement that the use of hear beat data is only an example of the type of monitoring that their software may facilitate.
"This particular patent application, in general, describes an innovation aimed at improving activity-monitoring systems and uses the monitoring of user heart rate as an example of the kind of physical state that could be monitored to detect when users need assistance with their activities, and to offer assistance by putting them in touch with other users who may be able to help," said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's vice president of intellectual property and licensing.
"It is important to keep in mind that with most organisations in the business of innovation, some of our patent applications reflect inventions that are currently present in our products, and other applications represent innovations being developed for potential future use," Gutierrez added.
The US Patent Office had confirmed that the application was published last month, 18 months after being filed. Patent lawyers say that it could be granted within a year.