It's no surprise why some employers replace workers with robots: Not only do they work for free, but they also don't get tired or distracted. Some employers who can't switch to an automated staff are still trying to bring that alertness to their workplace, by way of brain-wave-monitoring technology.
Brain monitoring tech is a common medical tool used for electroencephalograms, or EEGs. In EEG tests, small metal discs are attached to a subject's scalp to monitor brain cell activity.
Doctors use them to detect brain disorders like epilepsy and narcolepsy. But industries outside the medical community are now using EEGs to monitor employees' alertness and fatigue levels, or even their emotional state.
In China, many businesses have installed EEG devices into workers' hats and helmets. One recent news report found factory and train operators are using it to tell if an employee needs a break from being too stressed, depressed or anxious to work efficiently.
The tech has also been used as an accident-prevention tool. In Australia, dump truck drivers who work at coal mines wear EEG caps to make sure they don't fall asleep on the job. If the cap detects a driver falling asleep, it'll send an alert to the user to wake them up.
Beyond obvious privacy concerns, it's unclear if this kind of monitoring will actually help create safer workplaces. One policy analyst told Motherboard these devices create a "power imbalance" between employers and the employees who have to wear them, and are "more likely to damage morale than improve it."