Comments
Google Mulls Boredom Meter
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Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2014 | 10:19:16 AM
Distasteful
The clinical nature of "user engagement," is horrible. It sounds so robotic and inhumane. 

I can also tell you now, any product that tries to track me via camera isn't going in my home. That includes any Google products and Microsoft's Kinect camera. Not a chance. 
gasdetectors
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gasdetectors,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/27/2014 | 10:26:05 AM
Re: Distasteful
extrapolate - if the softare can detect your mood it should also be able to detect other emotions which could tailor games to maximise impact... you could really mess with peoples warm and fuzzies that way.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 10:46:57 AM
Re: Distasteful
Count me out as well. I don't see any direct benefit to me...unless I'm going to be paid for opting in or penalized for opting out.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 12:31:26 PM
Re: Distasteful
This does sound like something that would have to be run in a model similar to paid surveys or focus groups, where people get a modest amount of cash, or maybe a contest entry or merchandise, to give feedback or allow their reactions to be measured. Google could likely charge advertisers a premium over what it pays participants.

Still, it's just creepy. We have a Kinect, and sometimes I swear the thing is staring at me.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2014 | 12:53:55 PM
Re: Distasteful
This validates those paranoid folks at the office that put a post-it over their laptop webcam, even after we've promised that IT isn't watching.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 1:44:09 PM
Re: Distasteful
Not so paranoid, jagibbons - there was a recently published exploit that let an attacker take control of a webcam and spy on the user. I personally stuck some masking tape over my daughter's laptop webcam. There are even reports of disabling warning lights:

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/19/researchers-hack-webcam-while-disabling-warning-lights/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2014 | 1:48:15 PM
Re: Distasteful
Hadn't heard of that one, Lorna Garey. Maybe I'll have to cover mine unless I'm actually using it. Although, I can't image someone wanting to sit and look at my mug all day.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/28/2014 | 8:26:39 PM
Re: Distasteful
I'm not sure I know anyone who would willingly grant Google access to their web camera to monitor their reactions to content. Sure, some would do it if Google paid them a nominal fee for testing purposes, but how would Google use this information? I can't think of any practical instances.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2014 | 8:47:42 AM
Re: Distasteful
Well most IT departments have enough to do that they can't sit around watching hundreds of employees sipping coffee at their desks.  The possibility is there though.  I will say from experience, not watching cameras but monitoring communication that most people are very boring to monitor so if Google is going to be keeping track of people like this they better set the bar really low when it comes to detecting mood.  One thing I'm surprised we haven't seen from Google is analysis based on what you didn't click.  Think of how often you search for something then skip over sites because you know they are scraping someone else's content or you know that they have paywalls. If Google could see my face when I hit those sites it would change searching forever.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2014 | 9:00:04 AM
Re: Distasteful
That's what I tell folks. There's too much work to do to sit watching employees all day.

As for the low threshold of watching activity, the algorithm would have to be very sensitive to look at miniscule changes in body language, powered by a strong big-data engine in the background to sift through all of that data.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
1/28/2014 | 11:28:14 AM
Re: Distasteful
Companies already do eye tracking studies for websites, screen ads and movies for audience reaction, so this seems like a natural extension of that if it works. Though "did you like it" and "did you react" are rather different responses.  
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2014 | 9:03:12 AM
Re: Distasteful
This type of technology has a couple obvious flaws though.   Being a dual monitor user who rarely looks at the display that has the embedded camera means that the eye tracking is going to very tough to do especially when it has no idea what angle the other display is at.  For all it knows I'm looking out the window.  Watching facial expressions will be tough as well from odd angles.  This might provide some decent secondary data on surfing habits but I wouldn't make any decisions based on this data alone.
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
1/27/2014 | 1:37:21 PM
The younger generation won't look at it that way
I think Google would only have to pay a modest amount for a large number of users to sign up and offer valuable feedback. I don't want to be one of them, but for those already tweeting and living part of their lives on Facebook, they'd be willing to participate partly out of the sense their opinions are having an impact and counting somewhere. That doesn't seem to be the case for any of the commenters here, but we are making use of a more individualized outlet. The younger generation is going to be much more comfortable with social media than we are. There will also be a steady state share of the workforce underemployed and trying to make money from home. Here's a smple way to do it.

 
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 11:28:58 PM
No, No, No, No and No
And again, No, No, No, No and No.

 

Consider the masking tape firmly stuck over the webcam lens. It's funny, there was an advert for Microsoft (if I recall correctly) in a magazine I was reading, and it was touting the fact that the apps were "listening". My immediate reaction was "well stop it then!"

In the British political comedy series "Yes Prime Minister" there's a scene where they discuss the problems of talking in radio studio "off air", and the subsequent discovery/warning that "any microphone should be considered a "live" microphone." I would hate to think that every device in my house with a microphone or a CCD start to monitor me 24/7, and for what? It's not like it's for my own safety or anything...


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