Our invention has been widely talked about in recent weeks. We have now launched official communication with the media and we are meeting potential partners and investors. We have also started showing TIMATE around and we took part in two major events. The first one was INFOSHARE in Gdańsk and the second was IMPACT’17 held in Kraków. On 22–23 June 2017, TIMATE will be presented at the International Invention and Innovation Show INTARG 2017 in Katowice.
Why do this? By presenting our invention at different events and venues, we want to show and discuss the benefits of our system to employees and employers as well as to point out the faults of the existing solutions, e.g. vulnerability of RFID to abuse, legal controversies around biometrics, ineffectiveness of camera-based monitoring.
Our approach goes along the lines of the Lean Startup management strategy. The key principle is: Get out of the building! We follow it and we often leave our own backyard to show our invention to wide audiences. We talk, we ask and we listen to people who will be using our solution next year. We want to see if the market actually needs TIMATE. Does it solve the problems that enterprises are facing today? Will employees and employers like it? Will it make work easier?
As we have been expecting, the discussion is now in full swing. We are attentively listening to opinions and comments, both positive and negative. In particular, the negative ones. They reflect best the real concerns and problems faced by potential TIMATE users. We want to solve those problems, so below we respond to the most common objections:
- Is it not a better idea to use a smartphone instead of the card?
Definitely not. A smartphone is an additional device and some employees do not receive it in the standard package for their duties performance. The advantage of TIMATE is the form of the ordinary employee ID card and everyone has long been used to carrying it around with them. It is, therefore, highly likely that employees will not tend to forget it. Each employee is obliged to have the ID card always on them when at work. A phone is not a good choice for an ID, since it is too heavy and the screen is not active at all times (the battery goes flat, while TIMATE uses solar energy). Moreover, the time and attendance app which would have to be installed on the phone requires operation and consent by the employee.
A phone has more sensors than the TIMATE card, including a camera and a microphone, as well as constant access to the Internet and large computing power. Our card has only several sensors, extremely low computing power and no direct access to the Internet, so the scope of collected data is very limited. Furthermore, it generates no additional costs (in contrast to providing all employees with smartphones) and does not tempt people to go online when working.
- Can the TIMATE card have built-in features, such as those found in a mobile phone?
Depending on its version, the card uses a small solar battery or a button cell battery. This level of power is insufficient to operate built-in phone or GPS features.
- What if I am 15 minutes late for work? Will the card record it?
It is up to the employer do decide if coming 15 minutes late is actually tolerated. The TIMATE card will, of course, record it, but it will also notify the employer if someone stays 15 minutes longer at work. One could say it is a win–win solution for the employer and the employee.
- Is TIMATE a tool for full control over the corporation’s employee?
The TIMATE card controls the working time and the motion intensity, but it also suggests tasks to be performed. The motion intensity shows you if the employee is moving or sitting. It cannot be checked what the employee is doing exactly (e.g. working on some Excel files or meeting a customer). The scope of control is limited to several aspects which are significant with regard to the working time and tasks at hand.
- Does TIMATE limit creativity?
The card does not and cannot limit employee creativity in any way whatsoever. Its only goal is to help the employee follow the time and attendance rules agreed with the employer. The work mode can be based on an assignment of hours, and not only on clock-in/clock-out times. It is the employer who decides, when defining the employment policy.
- Does TIMATE turn people into slaves? It is like a ball and chain?
No. Time and attendance have been measured all around the globe for a very long time, in different ways and more or less effectively. It is a basic right of the employer and one of the ways for employee verification. For the first time in history, TIMATE does it in a fair and just way, providing numerous options to both employers and employees. If TIMATE supported slavery, it would have to resemble chips implanted under the skin. That would entail a 24-hour control over employees, even when they are at home. When our card is removed, it stops measuring the working time.
- Does TENVIRK, the creator of TIMATE, want to put people under total surveillance?
On the contrary! When developing TIMATE, the goal of TENVIRK was to limit surveillance to the lowest possible minimum. This invention eliminates surveillance that is usually enabled by CCTV systems or the use of fingerprints and implanted chips. TIMATE only uses the statistical analysis of human motion within a defined environment.
- What if I go to the toilet at work?
If the toilet is on the company premises covered by the TIMATE radio range, the system will not notice it. However, if the toilet facility is outside the radio range, the system will record leaving the workplace. As regards surveillance concerns, our card does not record what we do outside the workplace or where we go.
- Does the use of the TIMATE smart card require connecting chips to the brain?
On the contrary! Our card is a solution to the existing control problem – the primary goal is to eliminate implanting chips. We are strongly against this procedure and that is why we have invented TIMATE which monitors time and attendance in a non-invasive way and respects human rights.
- Does the card have any impact on employee performance?
The card measures motion intensity. For instance, if your job is to dig a ditch (manual labour) and the card records no human motion (sitting) for most of the working day, the employer will be able to check on the employee to find out why the work is performed slowly or not at all. The card measures motion intensity, i.e. one of the key elements confirming employee performance.
- Can the card transmit signals to the human brain and generate a specific way of thinking?
No, the card transmits no signals to the employee’s brain. It sends messages to the brain through the eyes of the employee who reads what shows on the built-in screen, e.g. overtime started, wear the helmet, go on a break, new tasks to be performed. The card, therefore, stimulates the employee to carry out specific actions that are beneficial to both the employee and the employer.
- What radio technology is used by the TIMATE cards? Does it interfere with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth?
The cards cannot use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, since they consume very little power and require transmitters with minimal power in order to operate and perform its intended functions. The system can be easily used alongside Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks without causing any errors or issues.
- What is the status of TIMATE with respect to the labour law and in the view of the Inspector General for the Protection of Personal Data (GIODO)? Is it legal to use the TIMATE cards?
At present, there is a debate regarding the legal boundary for the employer’s control over employees at the workplace. On one hand, the employer has the right to control time and attendance as well as performance; on the other hand, the control methods should be adequate to the goals and should never infringe upon the employee’s dignity and privacy. We have created TIMATE with those arguments in mind.
For this reason, TIMATE does not use:
- biometric technologies – it does no collect or store personal data, i.e. fingerprints, retina scans and other features or personally identifiable information permanently assigned to a given person.
- location technologies – depending on the implementation scenario, location is not tracked (when one long-range central station is used) or location is tracked only within large zones (several dozen metres).
- RFID chips (including chips implanted under the skin) – the card is equipped with a passive NFC tag used only for communication with a smartphone or an access control element compatible with the legacy infrastructure (door readers).
- cameras, microphones or GPS devices.
- Does the card have a built-in biochip?
No, it does not. The card’s operation is based on a motion sensor.
- Is the security of the card data and of TIMATE ensured?
The card does not store any significant data apart from the business card to be displayed on the employee ID. Importantly, this business card can be displayed only on the company’s premises.
Transfer of all data (from and to the card as well as to the cloud) is encrypted. The encryption uses industry standards available for electronic devices and the TIMATE software is protected in line with industry standards applicable to this type of IT systems.
- What if I forget my TIMATE card?
It is like forgetting your home keys. You will have difficulties entering the business premises and remaining there without the ID. The employer should have substitute cards ready and give them to employees if need be. The card format of the standard employee ID makes it easier to remember and always take it to work, though. It is nothing like a new thing to keep in mind: employees are used to it.
- What if I lose my TIMATE card?
Your card is like your keys, so keep it safe. But should you lose it, report it to your employer immediately, so it can be blocked in the system. The card stores no significant data and if you lose it, there are no other consequences apart from the material loss and the need to issue a new card.
- Should I leave the card at work or take it home with me?
Both scenarios are allowed – it is the employer who decides what happens with the card outside working hours. The card may be placed in a special locker or left on your desk. You can also take it home with you, but there is no connection with the system outside the company premises. When at home, you can use the card e.g. as a weather station or to measure time devoted to business tasks if you work remotely.
- Does the card enable tracking the employee’s location?
TIMATE does not use location technologies to record time and attendance. However, the card may be used to track the likely approximate location of an employee on the company premises within the last hour. The location is tracked within large zones (several dozen metres) based on likelihood, not certainty. This useful option can help the employer e.g. to identify the spot of an accident or to optimize the work space. The effectiveness here depends on the card infrastructure implementation method and the size of the business premises.
- Does the card show the unused leave and overtime?
Yes, it does, provided that the employer will make this feature available to employees.
- Can TIMATE operate without the cloud?
Definitely. TIMATE can be installed directly and locally on the company servers.
- Can you cheat TIMATE? For instance, by placing your card on a mobile object. Will the system detect this deception and stop recording?
The system has a built-in mechanism that detects the location of the card on vibrating objects (e.g. a fridge). If you use a robot or a dog that moves around the company premises, you will probably cheat TIMATE for a moment. However, TIMATE measures long-term time and attendance. If you try to get around the system, there will come a moment when you will have to explain to your manager or co-workers why a dog or a robot with your card on is running around the premises.
- Does the card show and measure abuses on the part of the employer?
The card protects the interests of both the employer and the employee. The latter can use the card for precise and systematic monitoring of hours worked, overtime and unused leave. Based on TIMATE data, employees can claim the leave they deserve or the overtime pay.
- Can the electromagnetic radiation from the card transmitter be dangerous to the employee’s health?
The radio transmitter power is extremely low, thousands times lower than in a cellphone! In addition, the signals are short and rare, which helps to eliminate any possible side effects. TIMATE is being subject to numerous tests regarding its compliance with respective norms and standards, so as to ensure it is perfectly safe.
- Would it be cheaper to put microchips inside people’s heads?
The card was created precisely to avoid such a solution. The TIMATE implementation cost is similar to the currently used TNA systems in Polish companies.
- Can the card check if the employee has healthy eating habits?
No. The card has no such sensors. It does not see (no built-in camera) and it does not hear (no built-in microphone), so it cannot measure the quality/amount of consumed food.
- What happens if two cards start moving rhythmically together?
If the motion source is one person, it will be detected and displayed as a message on the card. Such motion must last several minutes.
- Does the card monitor errors at work?
No. The card does not monitor results or methods of work. It only shows if the employee is moving or sitting. This information can be compared by the manager with the nature of the employee’s tasks in order to reach conclusions regarding the employee’s performance level.
- Does the card monitor the employee’s actions outside the company premises, e.g. on a street?
The card has no connection to systems outside the company, but it only works within the radio field generated by the central station installed in the company building or at the construction site. No motion or temperature data are collected outside the company premises. However, the card has a task schedule preloaded, so if it detects that the employee is not at work on a given day, it can ask (on the screen) for reasons of this absence. It is then possible to click „business trip” or „sick leave” or other options predefined by the employer.
- Are data collected by the card communicated to the authorities?
Collected data, including time and attendance, recorded events, accidents, completed tasks, motion intensity during the working day, temperature and lighting at work, are loaded to the cloud to the IT system which is accessed by the employer.
- If I put the card away on a table, can I work overtime?
The card does not monitor your actions, so when you put it away, it will stop recording your working time. You can then perform any actions (approved by the employer), but this time will not count as your working time.
- Can the cards be used only in offices?
Not only. You can use the card in plants, productions floors, construction sites and other places. We have designed various types of cases/protective material, so that the card meets all types of requirements, including those of particularly arduous working conditions.
- Can the card have new sensors added, e.g. microphones?
No, it is not possible. The TIMATE card consumes a very low amount of power. When you add new devices, such as cameras or microphones, there will be insufficient power to make them operate and the card will, in fact, turn into a smartphone, which is exactly what we wanted to avoid. The lack of cameras and microphones and the use of only basic features on an e-ink screen are the main reasons why TIMATE is better than TNA apps on a smartphone.
- Does the card spy or eavesdrop on the employee?
No, the card is not equipped with cameras or microphones.
- Do the cards create an Orwellian working environment?
No, TIMATE standardises and facilitates the control system without any excessive control.
- If I work near another person, will my working time be recorded accurately?
Yes, it will, since the card only monitors the motion of the person who wears it. TIMATE does not track the employee’s location in a precise way, so the distance between people has no impact whatsoever.
- Does the system check physiological reactions at work?
No. The system does not interpret the monitored motion (it knows nothing about its direction, purpose or course). It observes motion and it also has a sensor of light and temperature. What for? For instance, temperature can be correlated with work intensity; it is not the body temperature as such, but a resultant of the ambient temperature and the body temperature of the given person. Therefore, you cannot use the card to check if the employee is running a fever. The light sensor is used to help manage the card’s power supply and to check if a given place has sufficient lighting.
- Does the system support mobbing?
Mobbing is something done by people, not by objects. So it is people one should blame for mobbing, not the tools they use. Our card enables fair time and attendance recording and facilitates the task delegation process, which may indirectly eliminate the reasons for mobbing.
- Does the system exercise a full control over the employee?
The system controls solely the working time and the tasks at hand, while it also can perform access control functions. The card may detect accidents and the lack of the required personal protective equipment. The card has no camera, microphone or GPS, so it cannot show what the employee is actually doing at any moment.