Amazon deploys ‘Distance assistants’ to authorize employee social distancing

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  • TV screen gives workers live feedback on social distancing.

Since Amazon was alleged by a group of employees that the company put them and their family at risk of Covid-19 infection, has unveiled a new AI tool which helps employees follow social distancing. The feature called ‘Distant Assistant’, consisting of a TV screen, depth sensors and AI-enabled camera helps track employees and give real-time feedback.

It is designed in such a way that when the workers come closer than six feet, red circles around their feet flashes on TV so that they can maintain social distancing.  The company has put a step forth to foster better healthcare to the employees and make them more productive. The devices are easy to be deployed as well as moved to places as and when required. This is compared by the radar speed checks giving car drivers instant feedback on driving.

Amazon is about to open-source the technology, which enables other companies to replicate and deploy the same. Presently a large number of firms are using AI-based technologies to ensure social distancing since the outrage of coronavirus came to existence. Also, some companies are coming up with similar inventions like physical aids (bracelets, pendants, etc.) that use Bluetooth signals to adhere to social distancing rules.

Even if this technology has created security to the healthcare of the workers, the experts are worried about the privacy of the surveillance data. Amazon has been often criticized for its exhausting working conditions, so such involvement of tracking employee data can also be suspicious. They have been doing this long before, using a wristband for employees to track them. the intention was not only to direct them to do tasks but to check if their hands are moving in the right direction, towards the right shelf or bin.

The company has described the device Distance Assistant as a “standalone unit” that it is not storing any data. But the authenticity of the system is yet to be verified. They also say that employees are happier to be in a safer working environment.

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