Amazon Kindle, Echo Groups Test COVID-19 Tech To Keep Ecommerce At Full Speed

Amazon’s hardware group responsible for the Kindle e-reader and Echo Smart speaker is hiring engineers to work on its COVID-19 testing initiative.

Lab126, which GeekWire explains has been tasked with helping to keep Amazon fulfillment centers safe, has several job listings for mechanical design engineers to investigate and introduce new technology and methods to improve the quality and the efficiency of COVID-19 testing.

The jobs are located in Hebron, Kentucky, far from the company’s main headquarters in Seattle. During the company’s Q1 2020 earnings call, Brian Olsavsky, Amazon COO, said the company is making “investments in personal protective equipment for employees, enhanced cleaning of our facilities, our wages for our hourly teams and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop COVID-19 testing capabilities.”

Olsavsky also said Amazon estimates that testing will be about $300 million in Q2, if successful.

The hope is that testing will keep employees safe and distribution centers operational. “I think everyone is trying to get testing,” Olsavsky said. “It's not readily available on the scale that we needed to test our scale of employees.”

Keeping products in the hands of consumers means that distribution centers all along the product supply chain -- from electronic components to media buys from search to television -- must be kept up and running.

This type of testing affects all types of business, including media buys, because without these innovations brands stop advertising.

Digi-Key -- a distributor that supplies electronic components for developers at companies like Samsung, Google, and Apple, built into mobile phones and televisions -- created an ultraviolet sanitization tunnel.

The tunnel sanitizes more than 8,000 totes that travel through the company’s intelligent conveyor system daily. It aims to keep warehouse employees safe as possible.

The machine, which sanitizes the totes with chemicals and "ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation," a technique used by many businesses to kill and deactivate microorganisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA, was created by a team of six engineers at Digi-Key.

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