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Amazon Patents Wristbands Designed To Track and Steer Employees' Movements ( 96

New submitter hyperclocker shares a report from NY Daily News: Amazon workplace employees may soon be guided by their wrists. The tech company this week received two patents for a wristband designed to guide warehouse workers' movements with the use of vibrations. The concept relies on ultrasonic sound pulses or radio transmissions to detect the position of an employee's hand in relation to a series of inventory bins, GeekWire reported. Upon receiving product orders, warehouse workers are required to retrieve the requested item from such bins or shelves and pack it in a delivery box before moving on to the next order. If a worker's hands begin to move toward the wrong direction, the proposed "haptic feedback system" would cause the wristband to buzz and direct their hand in the correct direction. The wristbands, according to the patent documents, were designed as a means to keep track of products within Amazon warehouses as well as up day-to-day productivity. The proposed tech, however, could also provide Amazon management with a new means of workplace surveillance that would alert them to staffers who are wasting time or breaking for too long.
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Amazon Patents Wristbands Designed To Track and Steer Employees' Movements

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  • It's MANNA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 01, 2018 @09:12PM (#56051991)

  • This is interesting, but what they really need is some kind of system to keep track of inventory levels. This would prevent situations where I buy something and then they tell me they don't have any on the day it was supposed to arrive. Hopefully they will soon catch up with my advanced thinking.

    • Did Amazon really do that to you? Or was it one of their affiliates? Do you think it was done on purpose so they could sell the item to someone else at a higher price? Or did that item have many returns for quality defects?

      • I know that many people canâ(TM)t figure out the difference between rating a product and rating the seller, but yes, it was Amazon.

      • does it matter? Amazon's presenting their face for the marketplace. I don't buy that they're not equally responsible.
        If a friend vouches for someone else, and that other person swipes my wallet, I'm going to blame my friend for vouching for them in addition to the guy that stole my wallet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 01, 2018 @09:19PM (#56052033)
    Something's wrong with Hank's wristband, it's giving us nonsense data. Repeated up down and motions for the past 7 minutes, now it looks like it's speeding up. And it says he's in the bathroom, not at his station. This makes no sense at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Enjoy having every single move you make be scrutinized by your bosses, Amazon employees.
    This reminds me of the current state of being a truck driver: there are cameras and microphones and GPS installed in the cab, and every single thing you do, say, or expression on your face is reviewed. If they don't like the way your face looks, you can get fired. Real handy for them when it's time to give you a raise or a promotion, or when you try to use your paid leave for any reason.
    No, I'm not a truck driver, I've
  • Track and Steer Employees Movements? this creeps me out ;)

    Turning humans in to semi autonomous robots ;) Just a stopping point until they can move on totally ;) lol

    Just my 2 cents ;)
  • But honestly, the types of jobs where this is implemented probably are exactly the kinds of jobs that are going to be automated away before too long. Kind of screwed either way.
  • by rjejr ( 921275 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @09:42PM (#56052131)
    People could probably fake hand movements, they should instead make all workers put on a GoPro camera hat so they can constantly monitor what every one is doing and looking at then shock their brain when they do or look at something wrong. Problem solved.
  • Employee "Upgrade" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shogun37 ( 1835726 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @09:50PM (#56052177)
    Why convert to robots, when you can convert your human workers to computer control!? Hey! Why not have your "employees" chained to their posts!? And have them work 16 hour shifts, for pennies an hour!! Actions like these are what caused unions and higher overwatch of employers by governments. Too bad the corporations own both nowadays.
    • Hey! Why not have your "employees" chained to their posts!? And have them work 16 hour shifts, for pennies an hour!! Actions like these are what caused unions and higher overwatch of employers by governments. Too bad the corporations own both nowadays. do know they are still free to quit and find other jobs without wrist worn guidance systems don't you?

      I don't think free will has been taken away at this point.

  • by Sydin ( 2598829 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @09:52PM (#56052183)

    Please pay no attention to the dystopia behind the curtain!

  • George, for the last 2 weeks we have detected your left hand moving vigorously after lunch time in bathroom 3B. Can you explain this unusual reading?
  • Amazon just files a patent that, instead of a buzzer, activates the built in Taser.
  • Inevitable, but still spooky.
  • by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @10:28PM (#56052359) Homepage
    I seem to recall that the Romans invented iron wrist bands that were able to direct employees (slaves) with an attached communication link (chains). They also had a neck and ankle versions too.
  • The device delivers an electric shock to employees who step out of line.

  • How does this patent intersect with rule 34?

  • ...use the other hand!
  • Why does it have to be that the wristband is tracked and managed rather than the band doing navigation through it's own logic?

  • Every worker who spent time with that individual who attempted to start a union....
  • Meat based robots (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Thursday February 01, 2018 @11:51PM (#56052681) Homepage Journal

    At this point warehouse workers are going to become commoditized robot workers, controlled by a central system and mainly valued for their grasping capability. Show up to work, walk to the item(s), collect the items as you're told, put them in the box. Then you may rest for X minutes then back to waving items around.
    From an engineering standpoint it's brilliant, you "control" the "last mile" of the warehouse equation, at least until the robotics department finally rolls out their replacement for the humans.
    As a human working there though, I'm sure it's pretty degrading.

    • I'm pretty sure many of them will find some way to game the system. Attach the wristbands to robots, or the ol' "hang the tracker from a ceiling fan" trick to make it look like they're pacing in circles (really fast).

  • The 2nd gen version of the wristbands will use TENS or similar to directly control the worker's muscles. No human cognition/'effort' required. It's like a reverse-Waldo.

  • ... haptic "steering" has been going on for a long time. It's handy if you're plowing in near zero visibility:

    Meanwhile one might think that reading a single 2-1/2 year old NYT article about Amazon makes formerly clueless idiot an expert on Amazon's culture and management practices. Sort of like hearing that you should drink 8 glasses of water a day makes you an expert on hydration.

  • then you wear machines, and then ...? Then you serve machines.

    -- John Brunner

    I always thought that last part could just as well have read "Then you become machines".

  • If you were to gamify it, post high scores, give out trophys/achievements like Strava, Fitbit and what not, then the average drone in Sector 7-G will actually embrace this.

    Could also be used to shame workers who post low scores. Management exempt of course.
  • Everyone wailed when it looked like Walmart was becoming a monopoly, and they've got nothing on Amazon. STOP BUYING THEIR STUFF.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.