Amazon Patents A Wristband That Tracks Its Workers Movements

Amazon has been granted a patent for an electronic wristband that employees could have to wear while they are working, to ensure they are doing their job correctly. The official patent documentation, discovered by Geekwire, seems to move us a step closer to a dystopian future of human-robot hybrids, explaining the device would simply help people perform their jobs more “efficiently”. The Seattle-tech giant was finally awarded the two separate patents after originally filing for them in 2016. Invented by Jonathan Evan Cohn, in Massachusetts, USA, the bracelet comes in three parts. Made up of an ultrasonic unit for the wrist, various ultrasonic devices placed around the work area and a module to manage all that data, the idea is that it will monitor employee hand movements. Correlated to inventory bins (that employees need to put items in), if they reach for the wrong bin they will be notified by a small buzz. It could also potentially be used to notify them of break times and helping them find items in the warehouse via an Apple-navigation style tool. And for centres that are storing upwards of 1.7 million products - such as the UK-based one in Rugeley, Staffs - and have a constant influx of temporary staff, a little help finding things might be useful. Although with staff at Amazon’s flagship stores working ten hour shifts with one strict 30 minute break, the prospect of using the wristbands to monitor all employee behaviour (bathroom breaks, chatting to coworkers) doesn’t seem too far fetched. At the moment the patent is just that, a patent. And it only applies in the USA. Although Amazon have not made any steps to indicate they will be introducing this tech just yet, it is now more of a possibility than ever before. HuffPost UK contacted ACAS to ask if the device would be legal in the UK, and if so, whether it would raise privacy concerns. This article will be updated with a response.

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