Wireless wristbands could track warehouse workers

Ultrasonic wristbands
A diagram shows how an ultrasonic wristband can track a warehouse worker’s position in relation to a given inventory bin. (Amazon Illustration via USPTO)

Amazon has been issued a pair of patents for a wristband system that monitors whether warehouse workers are putting their hands in the right places.

The patents, published today, cover bracelets that could emit ultrasonic sound pulses or radio transmissions to let a receiver system get a fix on where the workers’ hands are, in relation to an array of inventory bins.

Amazon doesn’t typically comment on its patents, but if the technology makes economic sense, it could conceivably be picked up for use in the Seattle-based online retailer’s hundreds of fulfillment centers.

This isn’t the first time the concept has come to light: When the applications for the patents were published last fall, there was a spate of stories about “buzzing wristbands that bosses can use to track workers and order them around.”

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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