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A large number of firms offering AI video analytics and surveillance have created social-distancing tools since the coronavirus outbreak began. Now, an artificial intelligence-based tracking system launched by Amazon will enforce social distancing at its offices and warehouses to help reduce any risk of contracting the new coronavirus among its workers.
The system, called Distance Assistant, combines a TV screen, depth sensors, and AI-enabled camera to track employees’ movements and give them feedback in real time. Monitors set up in the company’s warehouses will highlight workers keeping a safe distance in green circles, while workers who are closer will be highlighted in red circles, Amazon said.
Amazon compares the system to radar speed checks which give drivers instant feedback on their driving.
Camera footage in Amazon’s buildings will also help identify high-traffic areas.
Amazon is also testing a wearable device that lights up and makes an audio alert when workers are too close to each other, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
Amazon also says it will be open-sourcing the technology, allowing other companies to quickly replicate and deploy these devices in a range of locations.
Amazon said that its tracking system is live at a handful of buildings, adding that it has plans to deploy hundreds of such units over the next few weeks.
The unveiling comes as Amazon faces intensifying scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and unions over whether it is doing enough to protect staff from the pandemic.
In 2018, Amazon patented a wristband that would track workers’ movements in real time, directing not just which task they should do next, but if their hands are moving towards the wrong shelf or bin.
The company’s description of the new Distance Assistant as a ”standalone unit” that only requires power suggests it’s not storing any data about worker’s movement, theverge.com reports .