AI may not steal your job, but it can tell the boss when you’re slacking.

What’s new: Drishti, a startup based in Palo Alto and Bengaluru, tracks the productivity of industrial workers by recognizing their actions on the assembly line. Automotive parts giant Denso is using the technology to eliminate bottlenecks in its factory in Battle Creek, Michigan, according to Wired.

How it works: Drishti trains the system to recognize standardized actions in the client’s industrial processes.

  • The training data includes video of many different people from a variety of angles, so the software can classify actions regardless of who is performing them.
  • Cameras watch employees as they assemble auto components. The system tracks how long it takes them to complete their tasks and alerts managers of significant deviations from the norm. Workers see a live display of their performance metrics. It shows them a smiley face if they’re ahead of schedule, a frown if they fall behind.
  • The system has helped factories achieve double-digit improvements in several productivity indicators, a Denso executive told Forbes.

Behind the news: Drishti’s founders include Prasad Akella, who led General Motors’ efforts to develop collaborative robots, and computer vision expert Krishnendu Chadbury, who led teams at Google, Adobe, and Flipkart.

Why it matters: Manufacturing is a $14 trillion industry. According to research sponsored by Drishti, humans perform 72 percent of the work, and human error causes 68 percent of defects. Using AI to help people work more efficiently could yield substantial gains.

Yes, but: Workers in some industries are pushing back against automated management. Last year, dozens of employees walked out of Amazon warehouses to protest the pace of work demanded by AI-powered supervisors, which they said led to dangerous conditions.

We’re thinking: Complaining about the quality of others’ work while not doing any yourself? Computers are becoming more like humans all the time!

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