The Smiling Face Tech is the cornerstone of Canon’s “Jiachuang Space” system.

China Workplaces Integrate AI Camera Tech to Check for Smiles at Work

In China, workers are expected to smile when they do their jobs, and new AI-operated surveillance is meant to ensure it.

China is the world’s most observed society. The number of closed-circuit cameras in Beijing, in particular, is enough to make one nervous. China has at least 200 million cameras installed in the country, the most significant number of surveillance cameras in the world.

However, China is not alone; other countries such as the United States and Germany have 50 million and 5.2 million CCTV cameras each. So it may come as a bit of a surprise, what the newest requirement at certain companies is when you read a new piece from

For employees at Canon Information Technology’s Beijing office, it’s not enough to show up for work — they have to smile, too.

The subsidiary of the Japanese imaging conglomerate introduced a “smiling face recognition” technology last year into its AI-powered workplace management system that uses facial scans instead of key cards.

Now workers must flash a smile before they are able to enter the office or reserve a conference room.

“We have been wanting to encourage employees to create a positive atmosphere by utilizing this system with the smile detection setting ‘on’,”a spokesperson for Canon China told Nikkei.

The facial tech is used for a variety of issues in the office, from entering the building to booking time on the printer.

The smiling face tech is the cornerstone of Canon’s “Jiachuang Space” system that also measures workers’ temperatures, registers guests, and — naturally, for Canon — allows them to print documents.

In its announcement in October last year, Canon said it is marketing the tools to businesses ranging from restaurants to hospitals to banks, and that it “hopes to bring joy and health to everyone in the post-epidemic era.”

Not everyone is sold on the idea

Some workers told Nikkei the happy face requirement was unwelcome and intrusive.

“So now the companies are not only manipulating our time, but also our emotions,” one Weibo user said.

The move is part of a larger trend of worker management that is branching out beyond monitoring the movements of blue-collar workers and seeking to influence the psychological state of white-collar professionals.

It is also being used to do some very clandestine actions against in house workers and the article goes on to say:

In April 2019, Insider reported Amazon was instituting a system to track warehouse workers’ “time off task,” and in 2020 it was revealed the company used a “Relations Heatmap” to track Whole Foods employees’ likelihood of forming a union.

That is not going to make most employees anywhere very happy.