Amazon's naked ambition to become part of everyone's daily lives was on full display this week at its annual hardware event. It announced a slew of new Alexa-powered devices, including a home surveillance drone, a suite of Ring-branded car alarm systems, and miscellany like an adorable little kids' Echo device. But it's clear Amazon's strategy has shifted, even if only for a product cycle, from going wide to going deep. Last year, Amazon baked its virtual assistant into any household device that could accommodate a chip. Its list of new widgets with Alexa seemed a mile long and included a menagerie of home goods, like lamps and microwaves.
Be prepared in the near future when you gaze into the blue skies to perceive a whole series of strange-looking things – no, they will not be birds, nor planes, or even superman. They may be temporarily, and in some cases startlingly mistaken as UFOs, given their bizarre and ominous appearance. But, in due course, they will become recognized as valuable objects of a new era of human-made flying machines, intended to serve a broad range of missions and objectives. Many such applications are already incorporated and well entrenched in serving essential functions for extending capabilities in our vital infrastructures such as transportation, utilities, the electric grid, agriculture, emergency services, and many others. Rapidly advancing technologies have made possible the dramatic capabilities of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV/drones) to uniquely perform various functions that were inconceivable a mere few years ago.
I always know a new product is excellent when its makers describe it as "next-level." I hear you moan, on seeing the new, wondrous Ring Always Home Cam. Also: When is Prime Day 2020? Oh, how can you be such a killjoy? When Amazon's Ring describes it as "Next-Level Compact, Lightweight, Autonomously Flying Indoor Security Camera," surely you leap toward your ceiling and exclaim: "Finally, something from Amazon I actually want! A drone that flies around my living room!"
I actually had to double-check my calendar to make sure today wasn't April Fool's. Because watching the intro video of an indoor surveillance drone operated by Amazon seemed like just the sort of geeky joke you'd expect on April 1. But it isn't April Fools, and besides, Google has always been the one with the twisted sense of humor. Amazon has always been the one with the twisted sense of world domination. This was a serious press briefing.
Amazon has unveiled a bizarre home surveillance drone that flies around 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 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'.
Tech product launches in the year of 2020 involve a kind of perspective whiplash that makes it more difficult than usual to decide whether or not you really need the thing. There's the consideration of whether the gadget fits into your life right now, at a time when our needs have changed considerably. There's also the fact that most of the products launching this year were dreamt up in 2019 or earlier. Back then, tech companies had a different vision of the future in mind, or at least different ideas of what the "lifestyle" images in their 2020 product marketing kits would look like. Do you need a fully autonomous surveillance drone for inside your home?
Consumer drones are notorious for being hard to fly at first, before you learn what you're doing, and the odds are, you will crash it. So how about a drone that flies automatically, in the home as a roaming security camera? One the manufacturer promises won't crash into a ceiling fan or a flower pot, because it has obstacle avoidance technology. And flies back into its cradle when the flight is complete. Jamie Siminoff, the founder of the Amazon Ring subsidiary, insists that it will because there's an app for it.
Amazon has announced a full range of new spherical Echo devices, new motorised smart display, a camera drone that flies around your house, a game-streaming service and more. In a streaming presentation, the firm showed off a smorgasbord of new devices from its various brands, including Ring, Eero Fire and Echo. The new standard Echo ditches its cylindrical shape for a fabric-covered ball design with Amazon's characteristic light-ring in the base to indicate when it is listening to you. It has a new 3in woofer and two tweeters with Dolby processing for stereo sound and automatic adjustment to the acoustics of your room. It also has Amazon's new AZ1 artificial intelligence chip for greater local processing of voice and other actions for increased privacy and speed.
Amazon's nightmare surveillance network is going mobile. Not merely content to film both the outside and inside of your home from fixed points, the company announced Thursday a Ring drone that will fly around the interior of your home, shooting and livestreaming video in the process. Say hello to the Always Home Cam, a product that's very existence poses the question: What the absolute fuck is Amazon thinking? According to Amazon, its latest connected monstrosity will cost $249. And don't worry, an Amazon liveblog made clear that this aerial peeping Tom won't violate your privacy -- unlike, say, the hacker who watched and yelled slurs at an 8-year-old girl through a Ring camera, or the Ring contractors who reportedly watched customer videos... or the Ring employees who tried to watch customer videos.