Japanese cellphone maker KDDI has announced a new phone that should be immediately unpopular to anyone with half a brain: it monitors your movements and can tell when you're slacking off. The phone, which you wear on your wrist, actually, uses an accelerometer to check your movements against information stored on a server — which the wrist-phone communicates with wirelessly — to identify what you're doing.
The folks at KDDI claim that the technology is actually pretty accurate, too, and can distinguish between actions such as walking, scaling a staircase or cleaning something. It'd be able to tell when an office worker or a window cleaner were doing the things they're supposed to be doing, or if they're just sitting there.
While it all screams Big Brother, Philip Sugai, director of the mobile consumer lab at the International University of Japan, told the BBC it actually may not be so bad: "Technically, I think this is an incredibly important innovation. For example, when applied to the issue of telemedicine, or other situations in which remotely monitoring or accessing an individual's personal movements is vital to that service." He did acknowledge there could be negative ramifications associated with the information the watchphone could gather, though.
A negative side that KDDI knows about, and considers part of its market for the device. Your boss knowing your every move could be a "good thing," however, according to Hiroyuki Yokoyama, a KDDI researcher. "Of course there are privacy issues and any employers should really enter into an agreement with employees before using such a system," he told the BBC. "But this is not about curtailing employees' rights to privacy. We'd rather like to think our creation more of a caring, mothering system rather than a Big Brother approach to watching over citizens."
Hey, it could happen, right? A nurturing Big Brother? No, not buying it? Yep, neither are we.
Who wants to wear a wrist-phone, anyway?