wnol.info June 19 2018

Amazon Patented A Wristband That Tracks Warehouse Workers' Movements

June 19 2018, 02:33 | Rex Rios

Amazon Patented A Wristband That Tracks Warehouse Workers' Movements

A diagram from an Amazon patent application shows a human worker wearing an ultrasonic bracelet tracking his or her hand movements and providing feedback. The patent was granted on Tuesday

The bracelet would emit ultrasonic sound pulses which would be picked up be receivers in the shelving units and elsewhere, not only giving the employees position in the warehouse, but also showing where their hand is positioned.

It's up to these employees to get the thousands of requests processed and sent on time, and now it looks like the company is looking into the possibility of monitoring workers' movements with a physical device.

Amazon has been issued with patents for a wristband that can track its wearer and vibrate to guide their hands in a specific direction. As we noted when covering Ford's autonomous police vehicle patent, patenting this sort of technology is often just a way for a company to prevent its competitors from using it.

It is thought they could be worn by workers in Amazon's vast fulfillment centres, of which there are 70 around the world. Intensive rhythms are dictated by an algorithm, and the unremitting targets placed on workers are times that do not allow them to deviate a second to go to the toilet.

Amazon has yet to comment on the patents, and its not yet clear if they will turn the ideas into a reality, as GeekWire noted.

Critics say such wristbands raise concerns about privacy and would add a new layer of surveillance to the workplace, and that the use of the devices could result in employees being treated more like robots than human beings.

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There's no word as to whether Amazon plans to start using this technology in its warehouses any time soon.

"The speculation about this patent is misguided", the Amazon statement said.

Many companies file patents for products that never see the light of day.

This isn't Amazon's first step toward more efficient employees and operations: The company has experimented with worker robots and delivery drones, and even with no employees at all at its Amazon Go cashierless concept store, as noted by our sister site CNET.

A year ago an Aussie robot called Cartman picked up first prize in a contest to try and improve the automation systems in Amazon's warehouses - it can identify items and stuff them into the right containers.

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