Amazon Wristband Patent Allows it to Track Movements of Employees

San Diego – Amazon has won two patents for wristbands that inform employers what their employees are doing. The patents were originally filed in 2016 and were published on January 30, 2018. The wristband can track employee movement including how active the employee is which would be a measurement of productivity. The wristband could also track how often the employee took breaks, visited a restroom, and can even vibrate when a task is performed incorrectly or if an employee becomes too inactive.

Amazon has been known for testing products internally before putting them on the market. The patent descriptions vigilantly outline that the tracking wristbands are not to collect data about specific employees, but about inventory. An Amazon representative made mention that “this idea if implemented in the future, would improve the process for our fulfillment associates. By moving equipment to associates’ wrists, we could free up their hands from scanners and their eyes from computer screens.”

These high-tech wristbands use ultrasonic pulses to communicate with the modules on inventory bins and tracks the employee’s hands. The wristband will vibrate when an item is placed in the wrong bin. Also, since Amazon encourages employees to work faster and more efficiently, this wristband would assist Amazon in improving employee performance.

Not everyone sees the wristbands as a means of convenience. Even though the wristband’s stated purpose is not to collect data about the wearer, the data is still being collected. Which leads to the question, would the wristbands be used to track and grade employee performance? By using these wristbands in the warehouse, Amazon would obviously be able to identify their most productive workers. Workplace Fairness, an employee rights organization, says too many questions have been left unanswered.

It is still unclear if Amazon plans to manufacture and put the wristband to use. Amazon’s former employees have commented that they would not be surprised if Amazon began using the wristbands. Amazon warehouse employees have stated that a typical day at the Amazon warehouse involves receiving hundreds of items every hour and being expected to process each item in a matter of seconds and if you fall behind you would be fired.

Amazon is not the first company to capitalize on technological advances to increase productivity. Another company in London is developing a system to identify unusual behavior in the workplace. A company in Wisconsin offered to implant microchips under the skin to give employees access to anything from secured doors to vending machines. Nearly two-thirds of the employees agreed to have the chip implanted.

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