Sometimes the most accurate visions of the future are also the most terrifying. Like this employee-tracking system imagined in a 2003 concept video by Accenture.
Strategically placed cameras monitoring employees? Check. Mandatory name badges tracked by infrared sensors? Check. It would all be pretty humorous in that darkly dystopian way if it weren't actually happening here a decade later.
Of course, all of this was imagined (and sold to businesses) as a way to improve efficiency in the workplace. Which it no doubt does! But there's no way it can be good for morale. Studies have pretty consistently shown that a sense autonomy is important for workplace happiness.
You can watch the video below, in all its chillingly prescient detail.
For those of you sitting at work with a camera over your shoulder who can't be seen watching online videos, a transcript of the video follows:
In today's office environment finding the right information usually means finding the right person at the right time. At Accenture, researchers developed Visual Location Awareness Tool — a system that provides people greater awareness of their coworkers, enabling them to connect with one another more easily.
How does this work? Everyone wears an active badge, and the office contains a networks of infrared sensors that can locate the badges — and hence, the people — throughout the environment.
Let's say I want to meet with Rosemary today. I know she has a very busy schedule and I can see from the map that she's in a meeting right now. I'd really like to catch her when she gets out of that meeting. So I can use our Visual Location Awareness Tool to send me an audio alert when she gets back to her office.
Another feature of Visual Location Awareness Tool tells you how long a coworker has been out of the office and where he or she was last seen.
And strategically placed cameras allow you to see activity in common areas. Visual Location Awareness Tool can let you know what's going on in your office or show you the activities of coworkers in other offices halfway around the world.
Research has shown that up to 75 percent of attempts to connect in the workplace end in failure. You call someone, you roll into voicemail. You send them an email message, they're not logged in. You stop by their office, they're not there.
Our Visual Location Awareness Tool can help bridge that communication gap, saving the time and money lost when you can't access your most valuable resources: your people.
It figures that we'd end up with this corporate panopticon but our flying car is still nowhere in sight.
Images: Screenshots of Accenture's 2003 concept video for the Visual Location Awareness Tool