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Amazon is rolling out a system that combines artificial intelligence and augmented reality to help workers maintain social distancing in the workplace, the company revealed Tuesday in its Covid-19 blog.

The new system has been deployed at a handful of Amazon buildings, but the company plans to deploy hundreds of the units in the coming weeks, the giant online retailer’s leader of robotics initiatives Brad Porter revealed in the blog.

He explained that his team uses augmented reality to create a magic-mirror-like tool that enables workers to see their physical distance from each other.

Inspired by existing use cases, like radar speed check signs, the system, named “Distance Assistant,” gives workers real-time feedback about their social distancing with the use of a 50-inch display, camera and computing device.

“The standalone unit uses machine learning models to differentiate people from their surroundings,” Porter wrote. “Combined with depth sensors, it creates an accurate distance measurement between associates.”

He explained that as people walk past the camera, a monitor displays live video with visual overlays to show if associates are within six feet of each another.

Green circles are displayed around workers who are six feet apart, while red circles are shown around those too close together.

The on-screen indicators are designed to remind and encourage workers to maintain appropriate distance from others, Porter noted.

The self-contained device requires only a standard electrical outlet, and can be quickly deployed to building entrances and other high-visibility areas, he added.

What’s more, Amazon plans to open source the technology so it will be free for other businesses to use.

“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our employees and we’ll continue to innovate to keep them as safe as possible,” Porter wrote.

 

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