AI-driven ‘Distance Assistant’ to encourage social distancing at Amazon

The ML and AR-driven system gives visual cues to employees to remind them to stay at least 6 feet apart, as per WHO norms


American multinational company, Amazon, has turned to technology to ensure that its employees maintain social distancing at the workplace and are protected from the coronavirus. It has employed the ‘Distant Assistant’ — a new technology driven by machine learning (ML) and augmented reality (AR) — which uses depth sensors to provide visual cues to workers, reminding them to stay six feet away from each other.

A camera tracks the employees’ movements, which are projected live on 50-inch screens placed within the premises. These screens are attached to the laptop and camera tracker. The employees who fail to comply with the social distancing norms appear circled in red rings on these screens, while those that do maintain the WHO-prescribed six-feet distance appear circled in green. These rings change colours as and when the employees move.

This new tracking system is already being effectively used at some of Amazon’s fulfilment centres, where the population and movement of employees is high. Other facilities will soon be equipped with the Distance Assistant, to remind staff to maintain distance.

Considering that Amazon has been under scrutiny ever since its employees raised concerns about lack of safety and questionable working conditions, the Distant Assistant is a step in the right direction. The Company has also made it clear that this is just one of the many measures it has taken to ensure that its employees are safe at the workplace.

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