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Amazon patents a wristband that would track worker movements

Staff at Amazon’s warehouse in Piacenza in Northern Italy preparing for Black Friday.

Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images

Amazon is really cracking the whip over its workers. The company has patented designs for a wristband that would track where its workers put their hands in relation to inventory bins and give “haptic feedback” to signal if they have the right bin to retrieve an item or not. The patent documents were first spotted by GeekWire.

The “ultrasonic bracelet”, supposed to be a time- and labour-saving device, would work by periodically emitting ultrasonic sound pulses to a receiver, tracking which bin a worker is reaching for and monitoring how efficiently they fulfill orders. The wristband would also send and receive radio transmissions, pinning a worker’s location and giving a burst of “haptic feedback”, a vibration similar to those found in phones or game controllers, which would tell the employee if they’re reaching for the right bin or not.

Amazon/USPTO

The approach would eliminate the need for extra time-consuming acts, “such as pushing a button associated with the inventory bin or scanning a barcode associated with the inventory bin,” one patent’s description reads. The idea of being tracked by their bosses might not sit well with Amazon workers, 500 of whom went on strike last November on Black Friday at Italy’s main distribution hub after disappointing talks over pay.

Six warehouses in Germany saw strikes on the same day.

Amazon has already embraced faster employees in the form of worker robots and delivery drones, as well as no employees at all with its Amazon Go, a convenience store that does away with cashiers.

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Honey is one of the most popular money-saving Chrome extensions, and for good reason. Whenever you check out online, Honey will search for applicable coupons and apply them to your purchase by automatically filling in the coupon code for you. No more wondering if there’s an amazing coupon you’re missing out on.

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