February 23, 2018

"Wristwatching" and Amazon

National Public Radio reports on what could be the next generation of work gloves. Amazon has been granted two patents for  “wristbands that could track the exact location of warehouse workers’ hands — and give workers tactile feedback to help guide them to a specific shelf.”  Similar to the vibrating wristbands telling pedestrians when a car is coming into a crosswalk as discussed in this Price Tags Vancouver post this technology uses “haptic feedback” to let workers know where the right location of an item is.
This idea, if implemented in the future, would improve the process for our fulfillment associates,” the company says. “By moving equipment to associates’ wrists, we could free up their hands from scanners and their eyes from computer screens. Using guidance signals, “The system, by monitoring precise hand movements, could identify whether the worker picks up an item from the bin instructed, or places it in the right location.It could also communicate information back to the worker.”
The inventors say the system circumvents the need for “computationally intensive and expensive” monitoring by means of computer vision, a la Amazon Go.
“And the inventors know their way around computer vision: The patent for the ultrasonic wristband was filed by Jonathan Cohn, senior technical program manager for Amazon Go. The radio-frequency wristband system was proposed by Tye Brady, chief technologist for Amazon Robotics.”

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  2. Reverse also works …capture at a micro-level on data analytics of worker’s performance. Will tactile feedback via sensors in work gloves enable worker to move faster to exact shelf ? vs. a robot (if not already used by Amazon) cruise down the aisle to pluck things off the shelf. Wouldn’t it be faster to have a robot move down the warehouse aisle….less variables re occupational health and safety?
    Would worker want direct frequent vibration via their hands daily from an occupational health and safety perspective? As usual, after new equipment is used, for awhile in real world, to gauge more accurately, any direct physiological impact on human being on a long term basis –beyond several consecutive days.
    Not against the concept. It seems like perhaps a take-off or useful application, if a person….is blind…GIS linked info. and spatial guidance, if the environment is safe and predictable.

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