Amazon patents wristband to track warehouse workers' movements

Amazon patents wristband to track warehouse workers' movements

On Tuesday Amazon was awarded a pair of patents it applied for back in 2016.

The tech company this week received two patents for a wristband created to guide warehouse workers' movements with the use of vibrations.

It is noted that workers in various warehouse and distribution functions already carry devices that monitor their locations - but would the wristband trackers be too invasive to implement?

According to documents obtained by GeekWire, patents issued to Amazon cover bracelets that could emit radio transmissions or ultrasonic pulses to let a receiver system figure out where the staff's hands are relative to the inventory bins they are close to.

"Existing approaches for keeping track of where inventory items are stored may require the inventory system worker to perform time consuming acts", Amazon argues in the description of the patent.

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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.

The wristband-based system would presumably eliminate that extra step, allowing workers to simply place inventory in bins and remove it, as necessary, without having to push a button or scan a barcode every time. The system also could track which items were placed or taken from bins by which employee.

"Accordingly, improved approaches for keeping track of where an inventory item is stored are of interest". The inventors say the system circumvents the need for "computationally intensive and expensive" monitoring by means of computer vision, a la Amazon Go.

"Every day at companies around the world, employees use handheld scanners to check inventory and fulfil orders".

Ed. Note: This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. ET with Amazon's comment.

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