Sunday, June 13, 2021

Worker Monitoring with Sony AI Vision Sensor, Canon's "Smile in the Office" Initiative

Sony publishes a video demo showing worker monitoring use case for its IMX500 sensor:

Nikkei Asia (reprinted by KrAsia) publishes an opinion about the worker monitoring systems:

"Workers are not being replaced by algorithms and artificial intelligence. Instead, the management is being sort of augmented by these technologies," said Nick Srnicek, a Lecturer in Digital Economy at the King's College of London. For example, with the development of digital technologies, management can monitor workers who are not in a centralized space, he said.

"Technologies are increasing the pace for people who work with machines instead of the other way around, just like what happened during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century," he said. "The same thing is happening today. Humans just have little autonomy over that."

It appears that AI-vision systems find more use in the office. Electronics Weekly and Nikkei Asia (reprinted by KrAsia) report about a new Canon China initiative:

"Last year, a Chinese subsidiary of Japanese camera maker Canon, Canon Information Technology in Beijing, unveiled a new workspace management system that only allows smiling employees to enter the office and book conference rooms. Using so-called "smile recognition" technology, Canon said the system intended to bring more cheerfulness to office in the post-pandemic era.

The software is in use in its Beijing office and is being marketed at companies in Singapore. However, many workers found the use of such technology intrusive. "So now the companies are not only manipulating our time, but also our emotions," one user said on Weibo. 

A spokesperson for Canon China, however, told Nikkei that the software was intended to help create a positive atmosphere: "We have been wanting to encourage employees to create a positive atmosphere by utilizing this system with the smile detection setting 'on'," the spokesperson said. "Mostly, people are just too shy to smile, but once they get used to smiles in the office, they just keep their smiles without the system which created positive and lively atmosphere.

More Canon pictures from


  1. How about a bird in the office?

  2. This sounds pretty dystopian if you ask me.

  3. As a Chinese, I don't agree with most comments on China from Western countries. But I really don't like what Canon China did here. This is ridiculous!!! Feel shameful for this. This is total misuse of a nice technology.

    What they should do is to detect which employee is not happy and maybe she/he has mental issue and the company should help she/he.

    1. For that, one would need work counseling, not a camera. And yes, mental health support would be wonderful - wherever the company is based.

      I agree - this is dystopian.

    2. This is 観音 sense.

  4. So the Sony Worker Monitoring System is protecting my privacy by not capturing image data, but based on what data is it then extracting my emotions, like if I'm happy or calm?

    On the Sony website it says:
    "The image data never leaves the chip, if you don't want it to."

    So that seems to leave the door open...


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