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Amazon Employee Wristband Patents Light Fire Under Privacy Advocates

Amazon swears it doesn’t want to turn its warehouse workers into “fleshy robots,” as alleged by writer Matt Novak in Gizmodo.

Amazon was granted two patents in January for the wristbands that are intended to show an employee how to use his hands most efficiently.

The company never mentioned any intention to use the wristbands to keep track of its workers on bathroom breaks, for instance, on or off the job. But that didn’t stop some privacy advocates and industry observers from warning of the creation of a dystopian time-management tool.

According to the Amazon patents, the idea is the wristbands would buzz and vibrate to nudge workers’ arms into a better position or even stop the worker from, let’s say, putting something in the wrong place or grabbing the wrong wrench.

“Existing approaches for keeping track of where inventory items are stored … may require the inventory system worker to perform time-consuming acts beyond placing the inventory item into an inventory bin and retrieving the inventory item from the inventory bid, such as pushing a button associated with the inventory bin or scanning a barcode associated with the inventory bin. … Accordingly, improved approaches for keeping track of where an inventory item is stored are of interest,” Amazon wrote in the patent documents obtained by GeekWire.