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Amazon Develops Social Distancing Tech Using Augmented Reality

Workers in Amazon's warehouses get real-time visual feedback showing if they are keeping a safe distance from their colleagues.

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This story originally appeared on PC Mag

It's hard to know exactly how close you can get to someone without breaking the social distance rules, but Amazon has made it easy for warehouse workers by using red and green circles.

Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty Images via PC Mag

Posting on the Amazon Day One blog, Brad Porter, vice president and distinguished engineer in Amazon's Robotics department, introduces a newly-developed system called "Distance Assistance." It's technology aimed at helping Amazon's employees to remain socially distant from each other at all times, and it was made possible through a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality.

In practice, Distance Assistance consists of a 50-inch monitor, a camera, and a computer combined into a standalone unit which can be deployed anywhere within Amazon's warehouses there's a power outlet available. It creates a "magic-mirror-like tool that helps associates see their physical distancing from others" by painting a circle around their feet, as you can see in the video above. A green circle shows they are at a safe distance from others, where as a red circle signals they are too close and should take action to go green.

For now, Amazon has deployed the Distance Assistance units "at a handful of our buildings," but positive feedback from employees means they are going to be deployed at hundreds of locations in the coming weeks. It's also nice to hear that Amazon intends to open source the software and AI used to create the system so other companies can take advantage and keep their employees safe, too.

 

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