Computers, which are pushing humans to unprecedented levels of work achievement and productivity, can now be used to monitor "cognitive overload" at the desk. Workers suffering from mental overload stop accepting new information, become emotional and stressed, make more mistakes and their reasoning is impaired.
However, technology developed at the information and communications technology research centre NICTA monitors voice signals humans can't hear.
The voice's resonant frequency through the vocal tract can be picked up via desktop microphone headsets and measured, allowing employers to tell in real time when their workers' brains are being overtaxed and, if necessary, intervene to avert disaster.
The technology, marketed as BrainGauge, is being sold as a recruitment tool for use in call centers.
Usually, less than 1 percent of calls in call centres can be manually reviewed by management, explained Bruce Whitby, managing director of BrainGauge.
"'But with the technology you can do 100 per cent screening of the calls, and highlight the calls with a very high cognitive load," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Whitby as saying.
A 15-minute web-based assessment that analyses candidate overload when faced with specific tasks means that "by selecting the right candidate in the first place, you can save the money of training people who eventually will leave anyway. So you get a more stable workforce which will serve the customer [better] in the long run," says Fang Chen, BrainGauge research group general manager, said.