Amazon patents wristbands to track workers' movements

"By tracking one or both of the inventory system worker's hands via the ultrasonic based tracking system, the inventory bin from which the inventory item is retrieved can be identified via the tracked locations of the one or more ultrasonic pulse emitting units by detecting when the tracked locations come within a suitable proximity of any particular bin", states the patent.

Amazon's tracking wristbands are supposedly meant for factory and warehouse employees, and the idea is to maximize a human worker's time and effort, as well as to keep inventories in flawless order.

On January 30, 2018, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted Amazon two patents for wristbands that track workers' hands. As we noted when covering Ford's autonomous police auto patent, patenting this sort of technology is often just a way for a company to prevent its competitors from using it.

Max Crawford, a former Amazon warehouse worker in Britain, said in a phone interview, "After a year working on the floor, I felt like I had become a version of the robots I was working with". "If you didn't meet targets, you were fired".

If the worker's hands move to the wrong item, the bracelet will buzz, pretty much like an invisible fence used for dog training.

It's worth noting that even though Amazon has been awarded patents for this system, that's no guarantee these bands will ever see the light of day. It has invested heavily in automated technology and robotics.

In particular, Amazon says, the new bands are created to be quicker, cheaper, and more effective than alternative methods of inventory management, like scanning barcodes or installing high-resolution cameras to track everything.

It's becoming more and more common for companies to monitor their employees through invasive technology, as there are virtually no laws to stop it.

Many Amazon customers rely on the e-commerce giant for its convenience and vast array of easily accessible products, but the people who fulfil the orders in warehouses owned by the company around the globe are often forgotten about.


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