In theory, smart offices hold a lot of promise: By tailoring each space to a specific person’s needs, it promises to make employees more productive. But a new idea from the world’s largest air conditioning maker, Daikin Industries, takes the concept too far. It proposes monitoring when employees are getting sleepy–and then blowing cold air to wake them up.
In a story in the Wall Street Journal, Daikin claims that its research found that lowering the temperature around an employee for a few minutes worked better than other methods for beating the afternoon slump, including installing bright lights or sniffing rosemary.
Of all the problems that smarter HVAC systems could solve, this is not on the list. People should not be subjected to blasts of air from an omniscient AC system that knows they just returned from lunch and are hitting their slump. If employees are really that sleepy in the office, the best thing an employer could do is encourage them to just take a nap instead: After all, science shows that napping can make you far more productive (if you can convince your boss to allow it). Alternate ideas: Hold a 10-minute dance party, take a walk, or get some exercise.
Luckily, the technology won’t be available until 2020, so there’s still time for Daiken to nix it–or perhaps focus on bigger problems, like the fact that office temperatures are just too cold, period.