Brain-scanning hats to make factory workers more efficient

A factory in China is reportedly using brain-scanning headgear that measures and tracks workers’ moods.

Using artificial intelligence, the headgear can pick up “emotional spikes such as depression, anxiety or rage,” explained the South China Morning Post .

The company responsible, Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric, reckons that tracking its employees in this way has increased their efficiency and, ultimately, helped profits. They estimate it’s increased the revenue by 140 million yuan (£16 million) in two years.

“There is no doubt about its effect,” Cheng Jingzhou, an official overseeing the program told the Post.

The company has about 40,000 employees but apparently uses the technology mostly for training new recruits. According to the report, the government-backed tech uses lightweight wireless sensors that monitor brainwaves and stream the data back to centralised computers.

Apparently, other companies in China are also looking to use this technology in their factories.

However, experts are sceptical of the claims, saying that electroencephalogram (EEG) tech, which records brain wave patterns, is not yet up to the task.

“Over-the-skin brain scanning through EEG is still very limited in what it can detect, and the relationship between those signals and human emotion is not yet clear," wrote the MIT Technology Review .

“Being able to gather enough information to somehow get a two billion yuan (£230 million) boost in profits – which is what one firm, State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power, claims in the piece – is incredibly doubtful.”

Monitoring workers’ movements isn’t a new trend, though. Earlier this year, it emerged that Amazon had patented a wristband that monitored worker’s movements.

One angry employee who did not want to be named told "They’re trying to turn us into robots."

"They might as well stick a camera on every employees forehead so they can see what they do too."

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