happiness meter

Have you ever been unsure about whether or not you were happy? Maybe you thought, “Gee, it sure would be nice if I could wear a device around my neck that would tell me how happy I am.”

Well you’re in luck! Japanese technology company Hitachi has come up with a “happiness meter.” It’s a device that you wear around your neck, letting it pick up little signals that measure exactly how happy or unhappy you are. Best of all, it’s designed for use in companies, so that your boss will know exactly how happy you are all the time. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Actually, it kind of sounds familiar:

▼ Hi-tachi-tachi joy joy! Hi-tachi-tachi joy joy!

happy happy joy joyYouTube

However hilarious or dystopian as it may sound, though, the happiness meter does have some amount of science backing it up. It’s based on research showing that the happier employees are, the better results their employers get out of them. However, up until now, the only way businesses have been able to determine how happy their employees are is by doing it the old-fashioned way: either asking them directly, or using some sort of third party/questionnaire, both of which can have biased results.

But now, thanks to Hitachi’s happiness meter, there’s no more need for doubt. Employees simply hang a nametag-sized device from their neck and let it send 50 signals per second to a database keeping track of little things they do: who they talk to, when, how long, whether or not they’re facing each other, if they’re standing still or moving, where they sit in the office or during meetings, and more.

But don’t worry. Hitachi promises that it’s impossible to access information for individuals, only information for all employees as a whole. So nothing could possibly go wrong…

Even though the happiness meter is sounding creepier by the second, it’s already been tested in several companies to great effect. For example, in one call center where it was used, information from the employees’ happiness meters showed that those who had lively conversations during break time were happiest.

Because of this, the company restructured break time, letting people around the same age (who would be most likely to have “lively conversations”) take their breaks at the same time. The results were incredible, resulting in three times the productivity as before, and leading to more layout and infrastructure changes.

Hitachi will take corporate orders for the device starting February 10, and have them ready to ship by April. They’re quite expensive: renting just one device costs 100,000 yen (US$843) per year. Considering it’s intended to be used with groups ranging from five to several thousand people, spying on helping your employees become happier just got a whole lot more costly.

Japanese netizens had some comments of their own on the happiness meter:

▼ “Isn’t it a little early for April Fools Day jokes, Hitachi?”

▼ “I can picture it now: An employee with one of these things around his neck is typing away at a desk, then his eyes go dark. He says, ‘Happiness depleted. Recharging,’ and then shoots back up, eyes bright and back to typing.”

▼ “Holy crap this is just like Sibyl-System from Psycho-Pass!”

“Pretty sure the happiness level in my office would be zero.”
“I’d rather have an ‘upset meter’ I could put on my boss instead.”
(In response to above) Yes! That would be so helpful in figuring out if I actually have to work or can just fudge it some more.”
“I have a feeling Nintendo’s going to rip this off. Expect to see ‘happiness-based’ games soon.”

What do you think? If your boss asked you to wear one of these, what would you do? Let us know in the comments!

Source: PC Watch via Hachima Kiko
Images: PC Watch