Watching Them … Watching You … Watching Them

CC000736Steve Lovell says that when an HR staffer walks into a potentially difficult meeting with an employee, they should be wearing something extra: a camera.

Lovell is president of Vievu, which sells “wearable cameras” to police departments and security firms throughout the world. Its latest product is a wearable Wi-Fi camera that’s designed to be worn on a belt, lapel, pocket or other places that bulkier cameras won’t fit. The company also says it’s waterproof and bump resistant, should you have need of such features.

Why would HR need this?

“Companies get accused of wrongful terminations on a daily basis,” Lovell said in an email interview. “With video recording interactions between HR personnel and employees, the long chain of events can settle any false claims for wrongful termination or hostile work environment complaints. This is a valid usage whether a company is hiring, firing or just a simple employee performance evaluation.”

But why, I asked Lovell, would an HR staffer need a wearable video camera for these important meetings–why not just use a regular video camera?

He replied that the camera is unique in that it provides “egocentric video” — that is, video shot from the perspective of a person. Additionally, Lovell said, employees will immediately know when they’re being recorded — a green lens is displayed when the camera-wearer activates the device. “It is a proven fact that when someone knows they are being recorded, their behavior is improved,” he said. “This alone can offset conflict and is a benefit our law enforcement customers experience daily.”

Will Vievu crack the HR market? I have no idea. But Lovell’s last point — that people behave better when they know they’re under surveillance — is amply confirmed by Mark McGraw’s recent news story, which finds that surveilled employees are not only better behaved but more productive. None of this is, of course, good news for folks concerned about privacy — but then again, it’s a brave new world, isn’t it?