Amazon has been granted two patents for a smart wristband that can track the hand movements of warehouse employees as they work in real time.
According to the patents, the wristband emits periodic, ultrasonic sound pulses which are picked up by receivers placed around a warehouse and are then able to track workers’ hand movements in relation to inventory tasks.
A second patent for haptic feedback inside the wristband will vibrate to alert the wearer should it detect they’re about to inventory an item into the wrong place, or pick up a wrong item.
The patents were originally filed in 2016 but were only granted at the end of January.
According to the description in the documents, the technology is a potential time-saving solution for people working among large inventories of products, where finding the correct product can be a time-consuming process.
Amazon’s network of warehouses and the work that goes on inside them is already huge, and the company is still expanding, so ways to cut time lost to rooting through its library of products seems a logical step, even if movement tracking wristbands on workers does sound a little dystopian.
However, it should be stressed that this is only a patent, and as ever with such documents is not a sign or guarantee that such a product will ever be created or put into use.
For now, Amazon appears to be focused on growing and expanding its consumer-facing hardware, most notably the Amazon Echo and virtual assistant Alexa.
In its financial results on Thursday, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos said the company will “double down” on the success of Alexa in the company year. Ultrasonic wristbands can perhaps wait.