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Someone's Watching You


FX Palo Alto Laboratory (FX Labs) has developed myUnity, a communications application that can tell users if a coworker is busy at the desk, talking on the phone, or has left the building. MyUnity gives users a visual contact list showing what their contacts are doing.

The program draws on multiple sources of information, including the location of a cell phone running the app and information processed from a user's Webcam. Information is collected by a suite of software and sensors that feed data back into the cloud, where users' clients can access it. The software employs color codes and text to show if coworkers are sitting alone at their workstation, or if they are away from their desk but still in the office. MyUnity can tell if coworkers are working at their desk by tapping into their Webcam or a security camera with a view of their workspace.

Interviews with MyUnity users have shown that the tool can help enhance communications, says FX Labs researcher Jacob Biehl. "We saw a reduction in the number of emails being sent and an increase in face-to-face communication—that showed we were providing awareness of opportunities for those meetings to occur," he says.

From Technology Review
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