Published: Sun, February 04, 2018
Health Care | By Belinda Paul

Amazon Has Patented Wristbands to Constantly Track The Hands of Warehouse Staff

Amazon Has Patented Wristbands to Constantly Track The Hands of Warehouse Staff

The patents involve ultrasonic bracelets that can detect the position of a worker's hands in relation to inventory bins, and a haptic feedback system that signals if they have the right bin to retrieve an item.

It's nothing more than a patent for now, but as Amazon continues to expand and the company looks to find ways to make its facilities more efficient, it's easy to see why such a draconian measure is on the table.

This week, Amazon was awarded two patents for wristbands that can track a warehouse worker's hands and monitor their performance. No matter how small or inconspicuous, a mandatory bracelet that tracks your every move still sounds horrifying.

Amazon filed for the patents in 2016, though the system first made headlines-and raised privacy concerns-when the applications were published last fall. The system also could track which items were placed or taken from bins by which employee.

Amazon workplace employees may soon be guided by their wrists. Humanyze, a Boston-based startup, has implemented biometrics in employee ID badges that track everything from movements to lengths of conversations to even tone of voices.

Current and former Amazon employees said the company already used similar tracking technology in its warehouses and said they would not be surprised if it put the patents into practice. Research has found that tracking devices can increase productivity, at least, in the short term. The laws around tracking devices are not that clear. In 2015, a woman sued her former employer Intermex Wire Transfers, claiming that she had been fired for disabling a Global Positioning System app on her company-issued phone after she found out that her location was being tracked 24/7.

In the UK, Amazon has gotten some criticism in the past for the way it treats workers in its warehouses who are usually rushed off their feet to get packages ready to send off in a speedy manner. Amazon already has a reputation for a that thrives on a hard-hitting management style, and has experimented with how far it can push white-collar workers in order to reach its delivery targets.

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