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Railway Workers Get Daily Smile Scans 385

More than 500 workers at Japan's, Keihin Electric Express Railway, must have their faces scanned each morning to determine their optimum smile. The "smile scan" analyzes a smile based on facial characteristics, from lip curves and eye movements to wrinkles. After the program scans you, it produces a smile rating that ranges from zero to 100 depending on the estimated potential of your biggest smile. If your number is sufficient, you can go about your day grinning like a maniac. If your smile number is too low the computer will give you a message such as, "lift up your mouth corners" or "you still look too serious." Every morning employees receive a printout of their daily smile which they are expected to keep with them throughout the day.


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Railway Workers Get Daily Smile Scans

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  • Japan is insane. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trinexx ( 1378811 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:17PM (#28597333)
    What the hell is wrong with the Japanese? What practical purpose does this serve?
    • by dyingtolive ( 1393037 ) <`brad.arnett' `at' `notforhire.org'> on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:19PM (#28597371)
      I agree entirely. At the same time, this scares me. What if they start demanding you report to the attitude modification center for your antidepressants because you're not smiling all day long? This especially bugs me because I'm not a smilier and I like being bitter, damnit!
    • I agree with you. Japan comes out with some crazy ass shit. I can understand having gym in the morning (though to be honest, if I am wearing a suit why would you want me to sweat in the AM and have to wear it all day). At least the gym gets your metabolism working. This is just stupid. Japan comes out with some whacky shit. I think someone's been eating som bad sushi.
      • Gym uniform, showers.

        That aside I think we've discovered one of the reasons their suicide rate is so high.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by sopssa ( 1498795 ) *

        And it's only crazy to you because you haven't lived their culture, history or know how japanese people have grown to think along the hundreds of years. I'm actually quite happy that theres still diverse in cultures, specially because USA and Europe seems to be getting so much like the other one. Your attitude shows the typical american attitude -- if its not like us, its bad or weird.

        • by snl2587 ( 1177409 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:29PM (#28598387)

          Your attitude shows the typical american attitude -- if its not like us, its bad or weird.

          Or, really, just the natural human response...which is not exclusive to Americans.

        • by pegr ( 46683 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:51PM (#28598653) Homepage Journal

          It is bad and/or weird. Japan, one of the most racist and nationalistic societies left on the planet (though not the only one left), practices many forms of conformity at the cost of the individual. Individuality is (sometimes literally) beaten out of the japanese since birth. There is no consideration of fairness, only service to the greater good, as defined by the politics of the day. I would be hard pressed to come up with a more accurate definition of institutional EVIL, quite frankly.

          Yup, company-enforced smiling... Doesn't surprise me a bit. Most japanese will lie to you if they think that's what you want to hear. It's all about saving face, literally in this case. It's all a pack of lies to strengthen the greater good at the cost of the people. It's a broken model and should be treated with scorn and derision. It is bad and/or weird.


          (Damn, now to post this comment, I have to hit "submit"!)

          • Pretty much (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Unoriginal_Nickname ( 1248894 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @04:12PM (#28598915)

            The only first-world country with no laws about racial persecution. They are signatories to all of the applicable treaties, of course, but the national and prefecture governments have been playing hot potato with the blame for never ratifying any of them. Meanwhile you have employment, products and services that are unobtainable unless you are a Japanese citizen, born in Japan, pure-blooded Japanese, never lived outside of Japan and also fortunate enough for none of your ancestors to have butchered an animal or buried a dead body.

            Mod parent up.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by pegr ( 46683 )

              Thanks for the support.

              Funny thing is that you were modded up for the "Mod parent up." comment, while my comment sits untouched.

              I admit that my screed might come off as an anti-japan racist diatribe from the likes of some right wing AM radio hack. (I listen to NPR, I swear!) But everything I wrote is the honest truth. Don't believe it? Find a japanese person and ask them. No kidding.

              In spite of my comments, I find Japan and japanese culture to be wildly facinating. Its very interesting to see how Japa

            • Re:Pretty much (Score:5, Informative)

              by Repossessed ( 1117929 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:51PM (#28601641)

              "The only first-world country with no laws about racial persecution."

              They did outlaw discrimination based on blood type though! That they even needed that law is pretty terrifying though.

          • by kklein ( 900361 ) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:03AM (#28604657)

            One question: How is your Japanese?

            Because every time--every time--I hear someone blathering on about how racist Japan is, it's someone who can barely carry on a conversation, and who is almost completely illiterate.

            I'm just sayin'.

            Now, let me temper that with this: Yes, there are some things that need to be worked on (piss-testing foreigners in Roppongi is really disturbing, but... Well, they wouldn't be piss-testing them if they thought that they wouldn't get a lot of them on drug violations), but over all my life is just fine. In fact, it's great. I have a well-paying job and a nice apartment and Japanese food is the best. I want for naught.

            The foreigner community has just as much work ahead of them to more peacefully assimilate into the host community as the host community has to challenge some of their racist notions and policies. Just as a "driving while black" story loses much of its punch when it ends with "and then they found a little pot I was taking to the party," a "walking while foreign" story shouldn't end with "and then they found out that I forgot that my visa had expired." Foreigners are mistreated here, yes, but many of them mistreat the locals. They act like the Loyola researcher in this Slashdot story [slashdot.org], and are similarly flummoxed when the absolutely predictable occurs.

            To all the foreigners in Japan reading this, please, for all of us:

            • Learn Japanese. And not just enough to nampa a chick in Roppongi and order a beer. Actually learn how to read. Kanji. English is not the language of Japan; Japanese is. I'm sorry if someone told you otherwise. That person was wrong. No one is under any obligation whatsoever to provide all services to you in your native language. Only English speakers would be so arrogant as to need to be told this.
            • Pay your taxes. Don't try to game the system when you leave the country.
            • Cancel your cellphone service and pay what you owe. Don't just leave.
            • Pay your incidental fees when you change apartments. Yes, renter law here is utterly ridiculous, but when you take off without paying, it makes it harder for others to get a place (which is probably why you're bitter about your apartment in the first place!).
            • For god's sake put your goddamn visa expiry date on your goddamn calendar. There is no excuse for overstaying, and even if nothing comes of it, your overstay will be logged as "foreigner crime" which will let the cops bug us without anybody caring.
            • When you move, update your address on your gaijin card. This isn't a foreign-only thing, guys. Japanese people have to do it too. If you don't like the government knowing where you live, leave. That is the law here.
            • Get a Japanese driver's license. Stop whining and waving the little gray paper with you picture taped to it that you bought at AAA for ten bucks that says you can drive a car on holiday. That is not a license. Go get a real license. It is not that hard, because all you really have to do (if you're American) is get your US license translated, pass a silly multiple-choice test in English, and drive around a little car obstacle course. If you're from any other English-speaking country, it's even easier (since US driver's licenses are handled at the state level and the states' rules are different, Japan makes Americans take a slightly longer test--not true for other countries). It's easy. And it's the law.
            • Don't do illegal drugs. Seriously, guys. At least wait until holiday if you really want to. The laws are strict here, but be thankful Japan is enlightened enough not to hang you, like some other Asian countries. Just don't do it in Japan. If you do, you are a stupid person.
            • For the love of god don't make sexual remarks to or about every woman you see. People's foreign-language listening proficiency always far outstrips their speaking ability. They know what you are saying
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:21PM (#28597405) Homepage

      To demean and control your workers. That is the ONLY use.

      • Re:Japan is insane. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:59PM (#28597971)
        This seems to be common on commuter railroads and subways. In New York City, the MTA has an entire "discipline department," whose job is the creation and enforcement of rules -- the rulebook is as thick as several of my engineering textbooks stacked on top of each other, and concerns everything from legitimate safety issues (employees cannot be intoxicated while on the job) to absurdities (procedures and times allotted for bathroom breaks, approved travel times when summoned for random drug tests, approved procedures for filing reports on infractions committed by other employees, etc.). It is also impossible for an employee to break any single rule, as one of the rules is "employees shall follow all the rules" and another is "employees shall be aware of all the rules." I am told that a typical disciplinary hearing involves 4-6 infractions, each of which is listed separately in the employee's work history if they are found to be in violation of the rules.
        • by alen ( 225700 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:13PM (#28598145)

          MTA workers are in a union and you have to have all these rules since the union wants there to be a good reason to fire anyone. where i work there is a 30 page book where half of each page is empty

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            MTA workers are in a union and you have to have all these rules since the union wants there to be a good reason to fire anyone. where i work there is a 30 page book where half of each page is empty.

            So they can write in a reason to fire someone?

        • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:29PM (#28598385)

          absurdities (procedures and times allotted for bathroom breaks, approved travel times when summoned for random drug tests, approved procedures for filing reports on infractions committed by other employees, etc.)

          I might note that some of these are not so absurd, particularly when dealing with union labor. Procedurees and times allotted for bathroom breaks? When it is necessary that a station be properly manned at all times, you can't have everybody heading to the can at the same time. Approved travel time when summoned for a drug test? Well, yeah. If you can take two hours, it becomes much easier to set up arrangements to cheat. Why not just use common sense for these problems? 'Cause with union labor, you can't. You have to be able to point to a specific rule that states in some measurable quantity what the employee did wrong. So specific rules like these have to be set up.

          • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@nosPAM.hackish.org> on Monday July 06, 2009 @04:31PM (#28599169)

            That's all, incidentally, the same reason unions exist in the first place: if you don't get the company's commitments down on paper, in a legal contract, negotiated and enforced by someone with the power to do something about breaches, the company will find as many loopholes as possible to cheat you.

            (This applies to large companies' interactions with consumers too, which is why there are consumer-advocacy organizations and class-action lawsuits.)

        • Re:Japan is insane. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by RabidMonkey ( 30447 ) <canadaboy@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:52PM (#28598657) Homepage

          Having worked in a very open company, which devolved into a restrictive one like you describe (books of rules) I can tell you exactly why they have books: because they need them.

          There is always someone trying to game the system, someone looking for a loophole, an out, a way to abuse, steal, harass, annoy, slack, avoid and so on. So rules have to be made because one idiot decided to try and use $LOOPHOLE to get out of $WORK_BEING_PAID_FOR.

          Add to that a union, and you've got a recipe for pages and pages of very specific rules.

          For example, in that company, there was a rule: no tank tops. By common consensus, that meant no shirts without sleeves. But some would take that too far, and wear shirts that had very tiny sleeves, then claim, "its not a tank top". So they had to implement a rule that said "sleeves must be longer than 3" from the shoulder", but then someone argued about where the shoulder started, so they had to make an even MORE specific rule about the distance from the neck to the shoulder.

          In short, there's one in every crowd. And that one ruins it for everyone else, in small, death-by-a-thousand-papercuts ways.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by shiftless ( 410350 )

            I can tell you exactly why they have books: because they need them.

            There is always someone trying to game the system, someone looking for a loophole, an out, a way to abuse, steal, harass, annoy, slack, avoid and so on.

            Whatever happened to managers simply handling each situation in an appropriate manner, and firing those who continually cause problems?

            Oh wait, that would require managers to actually think and be a leader. Instead we get managers who use the rule book as a crutch to compensate for their comp

    • There was an old Dr. Who episode called "The Happiness Patrol," non-smilers would be drowned in syrup.

      Also, in the Simpsons Time Travel Tree House of Horror episode, the Ned Flanders world had mandatory smiling enforced by hooks, and if that didn't sort out the Negative Nellies, then there was the option of a total frontal lobotomy. "And they let you keep the piece of brain they cut out," as Moe says.

      Also, I present this video [youtube.com].


    • Re:Japan is insane. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:28PM (#28597545)

      Simple, if you smile and pretend to be happy, you actually become more happy. When you are happy annoying people are less annoying and allows you to do service work more effectively.

      If you fly a lot compare Southwest with American Air.

      Southwest people are trained to smile and be cheerful. American Air doesn't.

      Southwest has less delays and is more profitable and the passagers are better behaved and quiet and cuterious of others.

      • Re:Japan is insane. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:45PM (#28597811) Journal

        It's true. That's why when you take a sales job you have to get in a circle at 7 am and do the big "ra ra ra" thing. It allows you to be contagiously happy and make money. It's pretty commonplace in workplaces all over the world. The only difference is, the Japanese don't have enough population to be able to make ends meet, so they've created a robot to fill the role that would otherwise be filled by your "team leader".

        Did you know Sadness is and has always been one of the seven deadly sins? Nowadays, they call it "Sloth".

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by damien_kane ( 519267 )

          Did you know Sadness is and has always been one of the seven deadly sins? Nowadays, they call it "Sloth".

          Sloth isn't sadness. It's laziness.
          Eternal sadness can be viewed as the reward for following the path of the sins, just as eternal happiness is the reward for pursuing the 7 virtues.

          • Re:Japan is insane. (Score:5, Informative)

            by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:07PM (#28598079) Journal

            It was originally called Acedia. It's an ancient Greek word describing a state of listlessness or torpor.

            This was subdivided into Despair (Latin, Tristitia) and Sloth (Latin, Socordia)

            It wasn't until around the 17th century that the interpretation of laziness became dominant. It was intended to refer to a sadness and depression that kills the charitable nature of a mans soul, cutting him off from the possibility of redemption.

            Nowadays, we label it "mental illness".

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Xtravar ( 725372 )

        My only Southwest experience as of late was a 3 hour flight to Dallas, and we had to stop in Oklahoma City because the pilot realized we didn't have enough fuel. What.the.fuck? Around here they're considered pretty crappy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ktappe ( 747125 )

        Southwest people are trained to smile and be cheerful. American Air doesn't.

        Southwest has less delays and is more profitable and the passagers are better behaved and quiet and cuterious of others.

        Correlation is not causation. There are hundreds of other factors as to why SW might have fewer delays and be more profitable. For example, SW doesn't adhere to the archaic hub system but instead runs a point-to-point flight schedule. They also fly exactly one (1) model of aircraft (B737) so they only have to train mechanics on one model and keep only one model's parts in stock.

        As for SW passengers, sure they're behaved. There have been several incidents of SW passengers being thrown off of planes due

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JWSmythe ( 446288 )

      It's the same thing that TGIBennaChilies does. Make sure you have a smile, talk warm and friendly, and oh dear god make sure you're wearing enough flair [youtube.com]. :)

      First thing in the morning, don't expect a smile on my face, unless I was up all night the night before, and had a morning quickie before leaving the house. Even then, I've never had a job that made me want to smile in the morning. Work is work, it's not to be freakin' enjoyed.

      I prefer that work ethic. I d

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 )
        Work is work, it's not to be freakin' enjoyed.

        I have a label for people who have that attitude about life. It's "WHORE".
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hab136 ( 30884 )

          Work is work, it's not to be freakin' enjoyed.

          I have a label for people who have that attitude about life. It's "WHORE".

          For years whenever someone asked what my job was, I said "corporate whore". Which is not far from the truth, since I passed up a low-paying but exciting job for making the big bucks at a corporate behemoth.

          Ten years later I've reversed it, and now make nothing at a fun job, but I don't regret the decision.

          What screws people up is that they don't want to admit, even to themselves, that the

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I agree. I'm sick of walking into stores and not being able to just look for a thing without being asked "Is there something I can help you with, sir?" The worst is RadioShack - I seriously don't go there anymore because spending two minutes comparing one device or cable against another must be seen by the employees as a sign of incompetence, and they MUST help you with your problem because only THEY, with their great RADIOSHACK training have the answer.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sesshomaru ( 173381 )

          "Now, you might ask," said the greasy salesman at the Radio Shack sales meeting I had to attend when I worked there, "Why is a customer going to buy a service plan that costs more than the cheap pair of headphones he is buying? Well, you tell him that when he comes back to the store with that service plan, he'll be a king. He'll be able to replace them no questions asked."

          "Anyway, the point is you need to be creative and get your extended service plan sales up..."

      • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:08PM (#28598083) Journal

            First thing in the morning, don't expect a smile on my face, unless I was up all night the night before, and had a morning quickie before leaving the house. Even then, I've never had a job that made me want to smile in the morning. Work is work, it's not to be freakin' enjoyed.

            I prefer that work ethic. I don't need shiny happy people asking how they can help me. I'd say my wife, but any married man knows, once the ring goes on the finger, friendliness and complements are gone, unless she wants something. The friendlier she is, the more expensive the thing she wants.

        I feel sad that you think this is a normal life. If you are serious, so am I.

      • by Oswald ( 235719 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:17PM (#28598209)

        Actually, Sunshine, the ring effect is probably indirect. I'm guessing (just guessing!) that as the relationship got to the set-in-stone phase -- perhaps shortly after the honeymoon was over? -- your true nature began to assert itself. Your wife, I imagine, is just doing the best she can to deal with the horrible mistake she made. She'll be friendly and cheerful again when she finally faces the truth that things are never getting better and ditches you.

        I've been married for 18 years. My wife still says nice things about me to my face and to our children all the time. She is independent enough not to have to "want something" from me -- she can do and get things for herself. We're both glad we didn't marry someone as congenitally cranky as you.

        Now stop insulting women in general and your wife in particular. It's rude.

    • Re:Japan is insane. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ohio Calvinist ( 895750 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:48PM (#28597841)
      While it is kind of creepy, having worked in Technical Support, I found that when I made myself smile, even when I was furiously angry or irritated, it helped me "be" more friendly and attentive to my callers, than when I frowned, or wrapped my phone cord around my neck like a noose, etc...

      When you are in customer service, it makes a huge difference, and belive it or not, it often makes a huge difference to customers who expect that you don't care about them and are just jockeying the time clock. Perception is everything.

      However, rather than doing this, it might be better to just talk to the employee if you see them routinely looking like they ate a lemon.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by owlnation ( 858981 )

        When you are in customer service, it makes a huge difference, and belive it or not, it often makes a huge difference to customers who expect that you don't care about them and are just jockeying the time clock. Perception is everything.

        No. I do not believe this. I want empathy from customer service employees. If I'm having a real problem, and some cretin is smiling at me, all that will happen is that I will be tempted to punch the smile off their face.

    • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:50PM (#28597871)

      What the hell is wrong with the Japanese? What practical purpose does this serve?

      I do not agree. A big difference between Japan and the West is that Japanese do not live/feel this like a constraint. And a guy won't be fired because "he cannot smile". There are many other similar aspects of the Japanese companies that would be hard to understand West side. This one is certainly humorous and original, thus it was publicized.

    • Walmart greeters are US, and have similar, if less formal requirements.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      This probably serves the same purpose as businessmen taking "smiling classes." From what I've heard, the Japanese are trying to fight a long-standing tradition of not-smiling ("control of emotions," etc) by having people be taught how to smile, and how to smile in a way that will appeal to people outside of Japan. The concept of this is that they'll be able to connect with foreign businessmen easier, and not seem so stand-offish. If I had to make a guess of why this was being done to railway workers, then
    • Japan seems like it has a decidedly odd take on things because it's a wealthy, first world nation who's culture is substantially different from the west's.

      Just look at Japanese games shows like that human tetris thing. No western TV guys would have come up with that. Different culture.

  • Bad news... (Score:5, Funny)

    by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:18PM (#28597339)

    Those employees about to be terminated receive the following critique:


    •     I guess it would matter what your definition of "terminated" is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by wbren ( 682133 )

      In that case, they're just lucky to be railroad workers instead of pencil factory workers. Actually, I'm not sure which is worse...

  • Flair! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:18PM (#28597343)

    And be sure to wear some flair. That would be great.

  • CHEEZ!!! [mentalfloss.com]
  • by Ronald Dumsfeld ( 723277 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:21PM (#28597403)

    Fuck. Right. Off.

    I can be polite and professional without smiling.

  • fake vs genuine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by prakslash ( 681585 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:24PM (#28597459)
    This may seem bizzare but scientists have long made a distinctinction betwen "fake smiles" and "genuine smiles".
    See this [nlrg.com] and this [bbc.co.uk].

    For people who have to deal with members of the public on a daily basis, being able to produce a smile that seems genuine may make a difference in how their customers perceive their service.
    • For people who have to deal with members of the public on a daily basis, being able to produce a smile that seems genuine may make a difference in how their customers perceive their service.

      I can't tell a fake smile from a real one, but I sure can spot the oxymoron in that sentence. So the goal is to present a fake smile that others think is genuine?

      • Yes, its called acting and is a professional skill. Almost any 5-star/executive/platinum level service personnel are, on some basic level, actors. They can create an experience with their mood, demeanor and charisma. Ever have a 'charming' hostess? Do you think that her being 'charming' is not a skill or talent?

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      And it really does matter. I can tell when someone's smile isn't real, and I get creeped out by it. They may be smiling as required, but I'm under no illusion that they will be really nice... Like, not spitting in my drink. Fake smiles are a sign that someone is looking to mess you over. For an employee, that's usually because the company is messing them over to start with.

  • Really...at least in China they don't give a crap if you are sad. You can frown all you want. In Japan - smile or the "smile police" will get you. WTF is wrong with you? How will this do anything other then make people more annoyed. Instead of spending this time/resources on crap how about you spend this time/resources on 1) giving your employees a free lunch, 2) giving them a raise (way to make me smile), or giving them extra time off since you obviously have so much money to spend on stupid smiley poli
  • Here's the Obligitory link to the Office Space 'Chochkies' scene [youtube.com]

    Except this time, folks DO need the job, and their co-workers are contorting their own faces in ways that may show up in archeological remains. Remember folks - competition doesn't always result in absolutely productive pressures, just selective ones.

    Ryan Fenton

  • I read this and can't help but think of Mao's slogan, "Smile, you're happy!" I know this is a private company - or at least a single government entity - but still it smacks of Orwellianism.

    Maybe it is actually doubleplusgood but I just don't get it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Here in Virginia, you're not supposed to smile in your DMV pictures any more because it supposedly messes up facial recognition software used by the state. Guess I have 4 years to find somewhere that doesn't do this before they start tracking my face all over town.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:27PM (#28597525)
    The overcrowding, intense pressure to conform, the legacy of the 90's real estate bust, and now this? Well, at least they have a lot of robots.
  • by SendBot ( 29932 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:28PM (#28597535) Homepage Journal

    Sing along everybody...

    "Happy happy. Joy joy!"
    "Happy happy. Joy joy!"

    "I don't think you're happy enough"

    "I'll teach you to be happy. I'll teach your grandma to suck eggs!"

    "and the little critters of nature. They don't know that they're ugly."


    "Happy happy. Joy joy!"
    "Happy happy. Joy joy!"

  • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:29PM (#28597555)

    Beatings will continue until morale improves!
    - The Management

    ps Have a nice day!

    (Seriously, have a nice day, you little piss-ants, OR ELSE.)

  • Twilight Zone (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PriceIke ( 751512 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:29PM (#28597569)
    This is the creepiest thing I have read in a long time. Is this real? Am I the only one who see this device as the basis of an episode of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone?
  • judging from the mood of the public transport people that I see every day, this gadget must have an additional "mean" and "grumpy" mode for export models.
  • If there's something more annoying than serious looking serviceman, it should be a serviceman with a fake smile. Whoever behind this clever idea should pay more attention to what people expect from services, it is for sure not smiling puppies.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by maugle ( 1369813 )
      Good point. Is this smile scan able to distinguish between genuine smiles, fake smiles, and scary psychotic "I will kill myself and everyone within a five-meter radius in 4..3..2.." smiles?
  • Coincidentally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 32771 ( 906153 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:36PM (#28597663) Journal
  • ...you must watch Koume [youtube.com].

    Guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face.

  • I'd be fired... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) <ememalb@@@gmail...com> on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:40PM (#28597733) Homepage Journal

    I'm not a smiler. My wife gives me hell whenever we take pictures together because I don't smile. I don't like fake smiling. It's stupid and I can tell when someone is faking it. My "fake" smile is stupid looking.

    They'd fire me after about a week. And you know what? I'd be cool with that.

    Retarded policy, well done, Japanese company.

  • What if you buy a smiley face mask and wear it on your face in front of the 'smile detection camera' or whatever it is?

    "Sugoi! Score 100. Your smile makes train customers very very happy!"

  • here's a link to Omron [omron.com] site regarding their Face Recognition software. if anyone can navigate the Japanese [omron.co.jp] site could glean us more information.

    i'm wondering if the scanner is using some type of microexpression recognition [blogspot.com] to determine genuine smiles. I think this would be the state-of-the-art for facial scanners.

  • Where is a guy fawkes mask when you need it.
  • Citizen,

    The computer has detected a potentially treasonous level of discontent upon recent examination of your facial expressions. Report immediately to your Happiness Officer for re-education.

  • by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:52PM (#28597887) Journal

    When you are happy, the Computer is happy! When the Computer is happy, you are happy! You are hereby promoted to Blue security clearance. Remain vigilant against the works of muties and communists... and above all, Be A Happy Citizen! Trust the Computer! The Computer is your friend!

  • by Hercules Peanut ( 540188 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:53PM (#28597899)
    This is the perfect example of treating a symptom. Smiles represent good feelings and a positive attitude which can very very infectious and so desirable in customer service. However, if someone is "too serious" the response "still to serious" doesn't really help. Perhaps they should consider the root of the issue and try to make their employees genuinely happy.

    Another option is to have them all wear smiley face masks :)
  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:53PM (#28597911)

    Thought bubble over Yoshi's head:

    "It is so easy to smile like this when I think about pulling out Boss-san's intestines with rusty fish knife and feeding them to my dog in front of his dying eyes. His time to visit honourable ancestors comes faster than he thinks.

  • by hairykrishna ( 740240 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @02:57PM (#28597951)

    If the smile auditing machine told me I didn't look happy enough, prior to my first work coffee of the day, there's be a serious danger that I'd attack it with a fire axe.

  • amateurs (Score:4, Funny)

    just dose the railway car's air supply with xanax

    if you are going to ignore free will, you might as well go all the way

  • They're obviously doing this so that their employees provide a better experience to the customers (as in come off as happier/friendlier).

    It is silly though as well as overboard. And from my experience the Japanese are polite/respectful enough that a smile (forced one at that) really isn't needed.

    I'll tell you who does need this though: US Customs agents. Seriously. Only instead of measuring the 'smile' factor it should measure power-trip probability and general douchebaggery. Then they can wear the results

  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:26PM (#28598343) Homepage


    That voice...It is the voice of authority. I should obey it.

    "Thank you, Friend Computer."


    Research and Design... why does the name send shivers down my spine? Is it a half-memory from my previous clone? Or just treasonous rumors?

    "Yes, Friend Computer."

    The transbot is over there, it can take me to R&D. Just have to remember to keep smiling. Always smile. Happiness is mandatory. Cameras are everywhere. Never stop smiling. You're happy. You're in Alpha Complex, a wonderful place to be, and you're happy. You love Friend Computer. You've never heard of any secret societies. You aren't a dirty mutant. You're happy. Keep smiling. The Computer Is Your Friend. You're happy.

    "Says here that your supervisor, Gregor-O, reported insufficient levels of happiness in your prior clone. Is that right, Perry-R?"

    This citizen is a YELLOW. Respond to him quickly and humbly. "Yes sir." The lab is stark, bare, metallic. The items clustered on counters and tables are complicated, intricate, dangerous-looking. They are probably above my security clearance; I shouldn't look at them. All of the things in this lab--which one is he picking up? That one?

    "This device is called the Joy Adjustment and Monitoring Elevated Device. J.A.M.E.D. for short, of course. Let me just strap this on..."

    I can't move, or I'll be terminated for treason. I'm RED and he's YELLOW; I have to let him strap this metal cylinder on my head. Computer knows what it does. Those two arms--

    "There we go, nice and snug. And these two little arms here go in the corners of your mouth like-- so. Now, the bot brain in here will monitor you for signs of unhappiness, and correct you into a smile if it detects any. Isn't Friend Computer generous?"

    It hurts-- a bit. The wider I smile, the less it hurts. Smile. You're happy. Friend Computer is generous to you. "Yes sir." Keep smiling. Maybe your friends in the society will know how to get it off---ow--but you don't want it off, you're happy that it's on your head. You're happy...

    The smell of the food vats is nauseating--ouch--the smell of the food vats is happy. You like working in the food vats. You like working for Gregor-O-ENL-4. You like making the algae that sustains all of Alpha Complex's citizens. You are the backbone of the society. You are important. You are happy. Smile. Smile at Gregor-O.

    "You're late to your shift, Perry-R. Are you seeking to damage the efficiency of Alpha Complex?"

    His face is unpleasant. And I saw the society propaganda in his office the other day. He's probably a traitor. Ouch-- it's really beginning to hurt, now. If I grimace at the pain, it only pulls up harder. My lips are sore and raw at the corners, my head is heavy with the weight of the bot. He isn't a traitor. You were mistaken. That was just paranoia. He's a loyal, happy citizen, just like you are a loyal, happy citizen. "No sir, Friend--augh-- Gregor-O." They pull up harder. It hurts. It doesn't hurt you, you're happy...

    "Then why are you so tardy, Perry-R!?" He's fuming. His face is turning pink. "Production is falling behind because YOU aren't at your station!"

    The smile is fading, the machine is pulling, the flesh is ripping. Drops of blood fall to the ground. You should be smiling--but he's making me so angry, he's the treasonous one, I'm the loyal one!

    "Sir, might I-- yeagh!--" The pain... It won't stop pulling!

    "Citizen! Answer my questions! Or have you been a traitor all along!?"

  • by thewils ( 463314 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @03:39PM (#28598511) Journal

    The Japanese take their railways seriously, and why not - they probably have the best railway network in the world. Trains are punctual, spotlessly clean and a pleasure to ride on, from the Shinkansen down to the smallest electric tram. The cost from Kyoto to Osaka can be as little as 400yen. Larger stations are packed with shopping and food malls and have a life of their own outside of the railways. You can get from anywhere, to anywhere on the train.

  • by tyroneking ( 258793 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @04:03PM (#28598801)

    ... smiling is known to improve one's mood and so even though it sounds really weird to the average morose loner on Slashdot (me included) I think it might actually help. Hell, I'd prefer an employer that encourages me to smile over the usual UK 'fuck-off-and-die minions' attitude.
    In India (and spreading across yoga classes in the West) there are laughing clubs (improves mood and health).

  • by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @05:00PM (#28599639)
    Guess they've never had someone jump down their throat for being cheerful.

    I have.

    A lot of Americans associate a business attitude with a neutral or even stern expression.
    That person smiling all the time is assumed to be an idiot, disingenuous, or high.
    Yes, smiling can be bad.
  • by cenc ( 1310167 ) on Monday July 06, 2009 @07:30PM (#28601411) Homepage

    Strange, you think what Japanese conformity is doing is all that different from Western culture.

    This has worked to organize armies of every country and every race for several thousand years. It has worked so well, companies started adopting it almost as soon as the idea of the company was developed. Yes, eliminating the individuals desires for increased productivity seems to work very well. The Asian cultures have been doing it for thousands of years. You know back when Europeans were still swinging wooden clubs in the caves.

    Why do you think armies are built first at boot camp? It is not to teach people how to clean a gun. It is to teach them to conform.

    Why do you think everyone at Wall Mart has the same colored clothing on. It is to make them conform, work as a group, comply.

    The concept of the individual, with individual rights, is a fairly new invention even in the West. Like only the last few hundred years new (even the last few decades for many). The Individual is something for "citizens" in the Roman sense of citizen, kings, emperors, lords, but not for slaves, surfs, cogs, employees, and other low life's of society. There are owners and their are the owned. Most of the World, falls in to the owned catagory in spite of what mommy and daddy tried to convince you of regarding being an individuel (while also telling you not to be).

    It still is something relatively unique in most of the World, and I might venture to most of you that think of yourself as "an individual with rights and freedoms" to stop for a second, check your delusion at the door, and think long and hard about just how free you really are. It might scare you to find out that you too had your individuality most likly beaten out of you one way or another. Right down to the way you put you select which words to put together has developed over thousands of years to force to you to conform to a cultural norm of what is correct and mistaken. Even your reaction to the oddity of Japanese culture, is in part the oddity of your own cultural conditioning. The Western has its own "smile machine" known as "freedom". If you use the word "freedom" sufficiently, you will get a good smiley report. Does not mean you actually ARE any more free or even any more aware of your condition than your average Japanese standing in front of the machine.

    O.k. I am sure I am going to get an lot of shit for this. Please let the lashing begin. Still, there is nothing in what I said that is any less true, in spite of all our egos.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann