Amazon has unveiled a bizarre home surveillance drone that patrols your house when you’re not there and keeps an eye out for intruders.
Unveiled by Ring, the firm’s home security arm, the Always Home Cam can fly to check if the stove is off or the window is still open while the user is away.
It consists of a flying black camera, powered by rotor blades, that automatically takes off from a stationary white dock if it detects movement in the house.
The camera streams a live view of what’s going on in the user’s home to their smartphone via the Ring app, in case of unwelcome visitors.
The drone only records when it is in the air and makes a sound when it flies, so any people in the house know it is recording.
Amazon said was inspired to create a security product that could move more freely throughout the home to ‘give more viewpoint flexibility’.
The US firm has also unveiled an updated spherical design for its Echo smart speakers and a new cloud gaming service.
The flying part of the device rests in the base. The camera is physically blocked when docked
‘We wanted to create one camera that could give users the flexibility of every viewpoint they want around the home, while delivering on our founding principles of privacy and security,’ said Ring founder Jamie Siminoff in a blog post.
‘This autonomous indoor security camera flies your chosen, personalised paths so that you can easily check in on your home for peace of mind.
‘Instead of simply encouraging customers to buy more cameras and set them up in more locations around the home, how could we solve this problem with one solution.’
Obstacle avoidance technology prevents Always Home Cam from bumping into unexpected or low-hanging objects as it moves through paths that are set by the user on the app.
The camera will only start recording when it leaves the white base – and when the device is resting in the base the camera is physically blocked and can’t record.
The camera streams a live view of what’s going on in the user’s home to their smartphone via the Ring app, in case of unwelcome visitors
Its small size, lightweight design and shrouded propellers enable it to move safely throughout the home, according to Amazon.
Ring Always Home Cam still needs approval from the US Federal Communications Commission, but once cleared will go on sale next year for $250 (around £195).
Industry expert and chief of research at analyst firm CCS Insight, Ben Wood, said Amazon is becoming ‘increasingly pervasive in our daily lives’.
‘The Always Home Cam is an incredibly ambitious device that will seem like something from a science fiction movie for many consumers,’ he said.
‘I expect it to generate a huge amount of interest from technology enthusiasts who are typically the people who embrace smart home technology first.
‘However, it is also likely to provoke a huge discussion around privacy and the future role of technology in the home.’
Amazon was keen to assuage any consumer fears that recordings of the home would be used by the company.
The camera will only start recording it leaves the white base – and when the device is resting in the base the camera is physically blocked
Critics have raised privacy concerns about Ring, which is best known for its doorbell cameras, citing the company’s close relationship with police departments.
But Ring president Leila Rouhi said that the company will never proactively share videos with law enforcement.
The firm stressed privacy and security ‘underpin every product, feature, and service’ it develops, including the Always Home Cam.
Always Home Cam only flies where the user wants it to go and cannot be manually controlled by someone who enters the home – only via an app on the user’s phone.
The device was one of several that Amazon unveiled Thursday as part of its annual gadget event.
Packed with sensors, the device sends an alert immediately to the Ring app when it detects an event, such as a bump, break-in, tow-away or an attempt to open the door
Due to the pandemic, this year’s version was held online instead of at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.
Also unveiled was Ring Car Alarm, an in-car device that sounds an alarm when a break-in or bump is detected, which is being released next year.
When users receive the alert they can quickly check the last-known location of the vehicle and take action by triggering a built-in siren.
Amazon’s home security business has been growing since its acquisition of Ring in February 2018, but this is its first security product for cars.
Besides cameras, Amazon also showed off a new look for its Alexa-powered Echo smart speakers, which have an entirely new design and and improved audio.
Amazon Echo has switched from its original hockey puck shape to a more fetching orb shape
To get your children into interacting with AI from an early age, Amazon is providing two options for kiddy versions of Echo
The new line has switched from the original hockey puck shape to a catching spherical design.
It has a bright LED light ring at the base of the sphere that reflects off of surfaces ‘for added visibility’.
The new Echo also has a 3.0-inch woofer, dual-firing tweeters, and Dolby processing to deliver better stereo sound.
The new Echo is priced at £90 and the smaller Echo Dot from £50, while a kids’ version of the Echo Dot is also available featuring a panda or tiger design.
All the new Echo devices will start to ship to customers from next month.
Amazon also revealed it’s tapping the video game streaming business, in an attempt to compete with Google and Microsoft.
Amazon Luna is a cloud gaming service that lets subscribers play games on TVs, PC, and Mac devices as well as through web apps on iPhones and iPads
The Luna Controller (pictured) is a specifically made for Amazon’s cloud gaming service, Amazon Luna
The service, called Amazon Luna, will allow subscribers to stream games from the cloud to their TV and computer, as well as through web apps on iPhones and iPads.
More than 100 games will be available at launch, including Resident Evil 7, Control, Panzer Dragoon; A Plague Tale, Innocence and The Surge.
Amazon is allowing a limited number of users to try Amazon Luna now for $6 a month, but didn’t say when it expects it to be widely available.
Amazon has also partnered with games developer Ubisoft to let players stream Ubisoft games through a dedicated Ubisoft gaming channel.
Gamers can play with an Xbox One controller, DualShock 4 controller, mouse and keyboard or Amazon’s new revealed $50 Luna Controller, which resembles an Xbox controller.
Luna Controller has low-friction thumbsticks, ‘a comfortable textured grip’, and wireless gameplay running on two AA batteries.
WHY ARE PEOPLE CONCERNED OVER PRIVACY WITH AMAZON’S ALEXA DEVICES?
Amazon devices have previously been activated when they’re not wanted – meaning the devices could be listening.
Millions are reluctant to invite the devices and their powerful microphones into their homes out of concern that their conversations are being heard.
Amazon devices rely on microphones listening out for a key word, which can be triggered by accident and without their owner’s realisation.
The camera on the £119.99 ($129) Echo Spot, which doubles up as a ‘smart alarm’, will also probably be facing directly at the user’s bed.
The device has such sophisticated microphones it can hear people talking from across the room – even if music is playing. A hack by British security researcher Mark Barnes saw 2015 and 2016 versions of the Echo turned into a live microphone.
Fraudsters could then use this live audio feed to collect sensitive information from the device.