When Amazon’s chief government, Jeff Bezos, promised in 2013 that drones would quickly be flying in all places delivering packages, a miniature digital camera whirring by way of properties and recording video was most likely not what folks envisioned.
But on Thursday, Amazon’s Ring division unveiled the $249 Ring Always Home Cam, a small drone that hums because it flies round homes filming all the pieces, ostensibly for safety functions.
Amazon additionally launched new Echo gadgets, a cloud gaming service referred to as Luna and different merchandise. But the house safety drone stood out. The firm’s promotional video highlighting the digital camera confirmed a burglar breaking into a house and getting spooked because the drone flew straight at him — “Oh, no!” he exclaimed — whereas the home-owner watched the encounter on his cellphone.
“Oh, yes,” the advert proclaimed.
Reaction to the surveillance drone was spirited — however not in the way in which Amazon may need hoped.
“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.
Ring said the drone could be used to check whether a homeowner had left the stove on or a window open, and promised that it would record only while flying. It would also make a humming sound so it would be clear when it was filming. But privacy was still the primary concern for most flabbergasted Twitter users.
“An internet connected drone camera for your home, owned by Amazon. this definitely won’t be a privacy nightmare *at all*” one person tweeted.
“A scary step in the future of tech?” posted another Twitter user, Khoa Phan. “Like it’s cool but always eerie at the same time. Obviously there’s some concerns about privacy with Amazon. But what’s the next step after this if this is just the beginning!?”
A disclaimer at the bottom of Ring’s blog post announcing the drone said the device had not been authorized by the Federal Communications Commission — and might not ever be authorized. Ring said the drone would become available next year, but not “until authorization is obtained.”
As for Mr. Bezos’ plan to have drones delivering packages? Back in 2013, he said it might happen within around five years. To date, it has not.