Amazon’s hardware event has concluded, and a slew of announcements were made, including new Echo smart speakers, an all-new cloud gaming platform, and a flying camera drone from Amazon’s home security brand, Ring.
The Ring Always Home Cam can physically undock, hover into a room, and record footage of any activity, such as a break-in.
Ring, Amazon’s New Drone
Depending on your perspective, Ring’s new drone cam might be a symbol of a gleaming, robotic feature, or it could be a foreshadowing of worse times to come.
Ring claims that its new camera is secure and private, so customers won’t have to worry. Regardless of their promise, The Verge claims that the Always Home Cam sets a poor precedent.
Equation of Privacy
Most privacy concerns revolve around a trade-off between convenience and access to your data. According to The New York Times, the notion is that the more data you give a digital company, the better they can help you.
Google’s services, from Google Maps to Gmail, are prime instances of this trade-off in action. Google claims it can bring up results ranging from advertisements to restaurant recommendations based in part on what it knows about your interests.
Many people are wondering why anyone would buy a product that violates their privacy and the privacy of their community for something that is just marginally convenient.
The drone only provides minor convenience. You get five minutes of battery life, which means you’ll have enough time to check for sounds of entry in the event of a break-in, or, more likely, to double-check your stove to make sure you turned it off, or your dog to make sure they’re all right.
In the uncommon instance of a burglary, many are wondering if the camera-equipped drone can affect the outcome and prevent further incidents.
Will it be a more effective deterrent than an alarm or a lot more likely to catch the intruder than a number of inside or outdoor smart cams carefully focused at points of entry? The answer is unequivocally no.
Calculating the Cost
The camera does not come cheap. It is also your privacy. While docked, the camera is blocked, and the drone only patrols when you instruct it to.
Amazon, on the other hand, has been steadily increasing the independence and reach of its home technology, making Alexa, in particular, more proactive and predictive.
Alexa Guard and Guard Plus listen for a variety of noises, such as footsteps and glass breaking, and Amazon is expanding the voice assistant’s capacity to respond to such noises, such as babies crying, people snoring, dogs barking, and more.
Such traits, however, just raise further issues, and severe ones at that. Ring has collaborated with hundreds of police departments around the country in an effort to reduce crime, but as CNET highlighted, evidence suggests that such collaboration has no effect on crime rates.
Experts have voiced concerns about the ethical lapses that are occurring; coordinated video monitoring, selected by Amazon and even partially accessible to police, is a significant blow to privacy.