Did I leave the stove on? Is the curling iron unplugged? Anxious but techy consumers may soon fret no more! With the help of Amazon, they may be able to put such nagging questions to rest remotely.
Last fall, American tech company Amazon unveiled a flying indoor camera. The bird’s-eye security device is called the Ring Always Home Cam. At least one alert analyst has asked whether the name reflects the current coronavirus state of affairs. (Always Home. Get it?) But in an October Wired article, Amazon says it chose the name long before the pandemic caused such a mess. It intended to provide a virtual presence when home occupants aren’t—present at home, that is.
With Ring’s new technology, absent homeowners can direct the Always Home Cam to hover over the stove, check window locks, or even peek at Fido’s antics.
When not in use, the indoor-only drone sits on a small base. It automatically takes flight if it senses movement in the house during its “away” setting.
Users will need to program the drone’s “flight path” by hand-carrying the camera portion around the house. Ring engineer Jamie Siminoff writes on the company blog that the flying camera “give[s] users the flexibility of every viewpoint they want around the home”—and omits any they don’t. Specialized “obstacle avoidance technology” keeps the drone from crashing into a pet or a person.
Amazon’s Ring brand is best known for doorbell cameras. But in addition to the flying drone, Amazon says it will soon enter the video game streaming business and launch a camera and alarm system for cars.
Critics have long raised privacy concerns about the Ring concept. They say the company’s close relationship with police departments—which might use images captured without a subject’s knowledge—are potentially problematic.
Amazon says the drone records only when it is in the air. Company reps also point out that the drone’s rotors make a distinct sound when it flies. That keeps it from being too stealthy.
Siminoff says, “We even designed Always Home Cam to hum at a certain volume, so it’s clear the camera is in motion and is recording.”
Amazon expects to sell the flying camera next year—pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission. The price for the extra set of (flying) eyes will be around $250.