A Wristband to Track Workers’ Hand Movements? (Amazon Has Patents for It)

LONDON — What if your employer made you wear a wristband that tracked your every move, and that even nudged you via vibrations when it judged that you were doing something wrong?

What if your supervisor could identify every time you paused to scratch or fidget, and for how long you took a bathroom break?

What may sound like dystopian fiction could become a reality for Amazon warehouse workers around the world. The company has won two patents for such a wristband, though it was unclear if Amazon planned to actually manufacture the tracking device and have employees wear it.

The online retail giant, which plans to build a second headquarters and recently shortlisted 20 potential host cities for it, has also been known to experiment in-house with new technology before selling it worldwide.

Amazon, which rarely discloses information on its patents, could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

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But the patent disclosure goes to the heart about a global debate about privacy and security. Amazon already has a reputation for a workplace culture 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.

Privacy advocates, however, note that a lot can go wrong even with everyday tracking technology. On Monday, the tech industry was jolted by the discovery that Strava, a fitness app that allows users to track their activities and compare their performance with other people running or cycling in the same places, had unwittingly highlighted the locations of United States military bases and the movements of their personnel in Iraq and Syria.

The patent applications, filed in 2016, were published in September, and the company won them this week, according to GeekWire, which reported the patents’ publication on Tuesday.

In theory, Amazon’s proposed technology would emit ultrasonic sound pulses and radio transmissions to track where an employee’s hands were in relation to inventory bins, and provide “haptic feedback” to steer the worker toward the correct bin.

The aim, Amazon says in the patent, is to streamline “time consuming” tasks, perhaps like responding to orders and packaging them for speedy delivery. With guidance from a wristband, workers could fill orders faster.

Critics say such wristbands raise concerns about privacy and would add a new layer of surveillance to the workplace, and that the use of the devices could result in employees being treated more like robots than human beings.

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.

Max Crawford, a former Amazon warehouse worker in Britain, said in a phone interview, “After a year working on the floor, I felt like I had become a version of the robots I was working with.”


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He described having to process hundreds of items in an hour — a pace so extreme that one day, he said, he fell over from dizziness.

“There was no time to go to the loo,” he said, using the British slang for toilet. “You had to process the items in seconds and then move on. If you didn’t meet targets, you were fired.”

He worked back and forth at two Amazon warehouses for more than two years and then quit in 2015 because of health concerns, he said: “I got burned out.”

Mr. Crawford agreed that the wristbands might save some time and labor, but he said the tracking was “stalkerish” and feared that workers might be unfairly scrutinized if their hands were found to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“They want to turn people into machines,” he said. “The robotic technology isn’t up to scratch yet, so until it is, they will use human robots.”

Many companies file patents for products that never see the light of day. And Amazon would not be the first employer to push boundaries in the search for a more efficient, speedy work force. Companies are increasingly introducing artificial intelligence into the workplace to help with productivity, and technology is often used to monitor employee whereabouts.

One company in London is developing artificial intelligence systems to flag unusual workplace behavior, while another used a messaging application to track its employees.

In Wisconsin, a technology company called Three Square Market offered employees an opportunity to have microchips implanted under their skin in order, it said, to be able to use its services seamlessly.

Initially, more than 50 out of 80 staff members at its headquarters in River Falls, Wis., volunteered.


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Will basement-dwelling NEETs soon be electrocuted when their tendie-bands detect too much activity?

You can probably steel passwords from people wearing these.

Maybe this will make the fact that proprietary software is a tool of subjugation more obvious to more people. The former warehouse worker seems pretty aware, the spoiled hipsters that voluntarily put implants into themselves not so much. Too bad the latter are the "trendsetters"

inb4 cuck governments like Sweden make these mandatory for all male citizens




Fuck off Goon


More tracking fuckery aside, if that thing works (that is, it isn't just a bullshit idea patent) it could be useful for anything that requires developing muscle memory like playing an instrument or swinging a bat or a fist. It'd need to be pretty good for that though, otherwise it'd teach the recognized movement instead of the correct one and we'd end up with a bunch of idiots who think they're great because they get a 100 score but really aren't.



Where do you think you are?

The people working there already are robots, they are quite underpaid for what they are doing(jacobinmag.com/search?query=amazon(amazon warehouse workers are literally spine of amazon)), although not in my country, where they are for some reason paid better than primary and high school teachers.
The only bad thing is that they are too cucked to strike, and if it happens without consequences, it sets quite a precedent.

It's amazing how Amazon manages to violate workers' rights without consequences, even in semi-socialist shitholes like Germany, and not even paying taxes.

Not cuckchan

But at least the weaboos and transethnic Japanese people / nerds / computer people will still be able to receive their dildos and Vietnamese literature on a saturday morning.

You people make me sick.

There's no such thing. If they underpaid another company would offer more and start poaching employees from Amazon, who'd be forced to either close down or increase wages. It may be boring and the wages may be shit, but moving boxes is something anyone but women can do so it puts Amazon in a good negotiating position (three peanuts a day aren't enough for you? fuck off then, there's a dozen Ahmeds who'll do it and they work overtime with no complaints).
Btw, the commie "taking value off workers' work" isn't valid for Amazon since Amazon makes no profit.

What rights are Amazon violating?

Amazon, in America, had to be pressured to install air conditioners in some their warehouses. If Bezos could get away with it he would engage in slavery.

Germany tried to restrict the dubious practices of Amazon somewhat and Bezos was all like "no fucks given, let's go to Poland instead".

Isn't Amazon making more off of AWS these days than off of their online retail business? After all, aren't nowadays all major tech companies focused on cloud and AI firstly and foremostly, with their original business areas being of only secondary significance to them?


I read that a long time ago and realized it is the only way to make niggers productive that would be palatable to liberals.

God that sounds really horrible (and efficient), it'd be like being in an adventure game and doing whatever the player wanted. Will read.

It should go one step further, some commie creates an AI and uses it to force niggers into tricking everyone else they aren't retards.

An AI like in the story would be well on the way to fixing the socialist calculation problem.

This is the necessary endpoint of capitalism. Maximum efficiency.

Kill it.

The funny thing about the Gorillas is google couldn't figure out how to "fix" it so they just removed Gorillas from the algorithm completely.

Capitalism cannot be killed, it will continue until humanity destroyed. Even in communism capitalism will continue.


It's inherently unfixable without high quality photography. There really is not enough data points to distinguish between the data sets of niggers and apes when comparing low quality photography.


Kill yourself, cuckchan commie.

you don't know what capitalism is, do you?

More products made per unit of time - more profit.

that's industrialization