A newly discovered Amazon patent filed back in 2016 details a wearable device designed to track warehouse employees. Is the company developing such a product for its own warehouses? Perhaps. According to the patent, which was filed with the USPTO, the wearable can be used to monitor a warehouse worker’s performance based on their proximity to certain inventory bins.
The wearable detailed in this Amazon patent comes in the form of a wristband and it isn’t intended for consumers. Rather than monitoring activity levels, the wearable is designed to monitor the performance of warehouse employees who are assigned tasks.
This is made possible using ultrasonic sound pulses and/or radio transmissions in conjunction with a receiver system. The ultrasonic wearable, the patent explains, will occasionally emit a sound pulse. Transducers near the warehouse’s inventory bins are able to pick up these pulses, which are then processed to determine the bin the wearer is interacting with (or, at least, very close to).
This system would enable managers to keep an eye on whether a worker is interacting with the bins they’re assigned to and their performance level. The patent merely presents the technology, not shedding light on whether Amazon is actively developing such a system nor whether it has plans to use it with its own employees.
However, such a system may be of interest to Amazon for its huge number of warehouses. Amazon’s warehouses, at least based on insider sources over the years, have a reputation for being demanding and pushing workers’ for high performance. Using wearables to monitor employees could be an efficient way to monitor a large number of workers while ensuring they hit performance markers.