The American web giant have just patented a rather unbelievable invention: a wristband aimed to survey the movements of their employees hands, so as to ensure that they are fully active and that they avoid making mistakes. It is not yet confirmed that such wristbands will be used, owing to ongoing queries about the patents.
While Amazon’s reputation for questionable treatment of its employees is under scrutiny, the website GeekWire spotted the filing of two patents for a wristband system which would allow the company to know exactly where an employee’s hands are and how they are being used. The device would vibrate in the case of errors, or it could be used to monitor the length of the breaks employees are taking.
“While the patent describes this tech as a time-saving system, tracking workers in this way seems dystopian”, according to a publication by The Verge.
This technology is leaning towards the surveillance and automatisation of employees, who already find themselves working in difficult conditions. The fact that Amazon have patented this invention doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to use it, but it is clear that there may be some cause for concern.
In fact, Amazon are particularly well known for imposing unfair work conditions on their employees, such as 55 hour working weeks, toilet breaks that are timed to the second and even using chronometers ensuring that employees stick to a certain required pace of work.
In 2013, the French journalist Jean-Baptiste Malet described some of Amazon’s management strategies and claimed that its employees were working in 19th century working conditions. In 2015, the New York Times published a long report detailing such methods.