Amazon patents wristband to track warehouse workers
Amazon has been issued a pair of patents for a wristband system that monitors whether warehouse workers are moving their hands correctly.
The patents, first reported by GeekWire on Jan. 30, cover bracelets that could emit ultrasonic sonic pulses or radio transmissions to let a receiver system get a fix on where workers’ hands are located in relation to inventory bins.
The company hasn’t commented on the patents, but if the technology actually comes to fruition, it’s plausible that it could be used in Amazon’s many vast warehouses.
Although the patent may evoke privacy concerns, the concept is described as a labor-saving measure according to GeekWire:
“Existing approaches for keeping track of where inventory items are stored … may require the inventory system worker to perform time consuming acts beyond placing the inventory item into an inventory bin and retrieving the inventory item from the inventory bid, such as pushing a button associated with the inventory bin or scanning a barcode associated with the inventory bin. … Accordingly, improved approaches for keeping track of where an inventory item is stored are of interest.”
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In addition to picking up signals, the system could send signals back, setting the band abuzz with a burst of “haptic feedback” to let workers know their hands are heading for the right bin.
However, it’s not clear if Amazon will even turn the wristband concept into a reality.
Amazon, which has over 540,000 employees, has faced criticism over the treatment of its drivers in the U.K. and the fact that many of its workers in Ohio are on food stamps.