“Smart” Office Chair Cushions That Track Employee Health and Activity Aren’t Popular Among Employees

By B.N. Frank

Privacy and security experts have warned for many years about privacy and cybersecurity risks associated with ALL “Smart” and wireless technology – cell phones (see 1, 2, 3), medical devices and implants (see 1, 2), personal and “Smart” home devices and wearables (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), utility “Smart” meters (electric, gas, and water), and everything that uses Internet of Things (IoT) technology (see 1, 2).

Last month, researchers from Carnegie Melon University proposed product warning labels that would make it easier for consumers to understand these risks.  Of course, manufacturers may not be in a hurry to use them.  Not only that – some employers are requiring that employees use health and activity tracking technology during COVID.  In fact, office workers may find themselves sitting on it.

From The New York Times:

Slouch or Slack Off, This ‘Smart’ Office Chair Cushion Will Record It

A Chinese tech company designed a way to track employees’ health, but sensors were also monitoring when they were away from their desks, setting off a debate about privacy and surveillance.

HONG KONG — A technology company in eastern China designed “smart” cushions and gave them to its employees for their office chairs as part of a product study. The cushions were supposed to monitor their health, note bad posture as a sign of possible fatigue, measure heart rates and tally minutes spent at work stations.

But when the company’s human resources manager began inquiring about employees’ long breaks and early departures from work, it soon became clear that the cushions were also recording the last thing employees wanted their bosses to know: when they were absent from their desks, potentially spelling trouble for workers.

The episode at Health Boost IoT Technology Company has raised questions about privacy and transparency in the workplace, and set off an online debate about the boundaries of corporate surveillance. While government surveillance is pervasive in the country, residents also worry about unwanted monitoring from their employers.

The company, based in the city of Hangzhou, said in a statement that it had issued a warning to the human resources manager for “disseminating” participant data without permission. But the company’s chief executive, Zhang Biyong, defended the manager’s right to scrutinize the whereabouts of its employees.

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In addition to privacy and security risks with all “Smart” and wireless products – they also emit harmful radiation which can

Perhaps employers who require “Smart” cushions should be concerned about health liability as well privacy and security risks.

Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives and the following websites:

Image: Pixabay

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