Amazon is offering its customers new tech products to help make Amazon customers’ homes safer and shopping easier.
The Always Home Cam is an autonomous indoor drone that can use a map of buyers’ homes to fly independently around to monitor any strange noises or run a patrol when buyers are not home. The product comes from Ring, an Amazon-owned technology-oriented security business known for its Ring Doorbells.
“The Ring Always Home Cam also easily integrates with Ring Alarm—our home security system—charting a new path forward not just for how people use security cameras, but also for the benefits of a home alarm system. When Ring Alarm is triggered while in Away Mode, the Always Home Cam will automatically fly a set path to see what’s happening. You can easily stream video while the camera is in-flight via the Ring App, making sure that you’re in the know when it comes to everything happening at home,” said Ring in a blogpost.
The new drone will retail for $249. The device is expected to be available sometime next year.
The high sticker price was not the biggest shock for consumers. Instead, many people echoed concerns about the security surrounding the product.
“In a country with no laws regulating digital privacy, anyone who buys this from a company with a history of privacy problems is insane,” tweeted Walt Mossberg, a longtime tech product reviewer who is a member of the nonprofit News Literacy Project’s board.
Amazon executive David Limp did reassure potential buyers that many steps have been taken by Amazon to ensure consumers’ privacy. Limp said that Amazon made major investments in camera security, such as two-factor authentication and end-to-end encryption, and the drone will only be recording while flying.
The Always Home Cam has yet to be authorized by the Federal Communications Commission and cannot be sold or leased until approved.
Another significant development from Amazon is the introduction of Amazon One.
Amazon One connects consumers’ palm prints to a stored credit card so they can place their hand above a sensor to enter and buy items at checkout-free Amazon Go stores. The Amazon One will take the place of the smartphone currently used during the process.
To start, the feature will be available at only two Amazon Go stores in Seattle, but the company has plans to expand to other stores.
“We believe Amazon One has broad applicability beyond our retail stores, so we also plan to offer the service to third parties like retailers, stadiums, and office buildings so that more people can benefit from this ease and convenience in more places,” said Dilip Kumar, vice president of Amazon’s physical retail business.
The Amazon One service will use image scanning hardware that includes proprietary computer vision algorithms to capture and encrypt a users’ palm image. The consumer will not need an Amazon account to use the service, only a phone number, and a credit card. Amazon One users will also delete their biometric data from the company’s online portal if they no longer want to use the service.
Amazon also stressed the added security that palm biometrics offers consumers.
“One reason was that palm recognition is considered more private than some biometric alternatives because you can’t determine a person’s identity by looking at an image of their palm. It also requires someone to make an intentional gesture by holding their palm over the device to use,” explained Kumar.