Amazon has unveiled a miniature security drone that will patrol inside homes recording video and broadcasting it to owners’ smartphones.
The Always Home Cam, which is being sold by Amazon subsidiary Ring, is designed to alert owners to potential break-ins, autonomously flying around rooms when people are out of the house.
Amazon said it was also designed to let people check if they have left the oven or other appliances on when they are away. The camera - which the company is not calling a drone - will follow a pre-set flight path above head height, although it will not be able to surveil multiple floors of a building.
Ever get a Ring Alarm alert and want to immediately see what's happening? The Ring Always Home Cam is here to help. This compact, lightweight, autonomously flying indoor camera gives even greater visibility when you’re not home. Learn more: https://t.co/A62pZUuYDa [US Only] pic.twitter.com/13cXKtEeSs— Ring (@ring) September 24, 2020
When it detects a disturbance it will find its own path to the source. It cannot be manually controlled as most drones are. The device will only record video when it is flying, with the camera blocked when it is sitting in its charging dock. It will also emit a humming sound while it is flying around recording, alerting both potential burglars and its owners to its presence.
Ring, which makes home security cameras, said the Always Home Cam was designed after customers said they wanted a camera that could give viewpoints of every part of a house. It will cost $250 (£196) when it is released next year, although Ring did not give a UK price or release date.
Game streaming and new Echo devices
The drone was unveiled at Amazon's annual hardware launch event on Thursday, where the company also announced several other Ring security devices, new Echo speakers for the company’s Alexa assistant, and a game streaming service.
Ring announced an internet connected car alarm that sends alerts to a smartphone when it detects a break-in, as well as a security camera that can record interactions with police officers when a driver has been pulled over. Amazon has redesigned its Echo devices to an orb-like shape, and a new version of the Echo Show, which features a screen, will adjust its screen to follow a person as they walk around the room.
The company said it had improved Alexa so that the computer-generated voice sounded more natural, and that it was now able to pick up on conversations more intelligently. Users will be able to tell the assistant to “join a conversation” such as choosing a film or ordering a takeaway, at which point it will detect when a command is directed at the Echo, rather than a conversation between two humans.
The company’s game streaming service, Amazon Luna, means that gamers will be able to play the same title on multiple devices such as TVs, computers and smartphones, since the game itself will run in the cloud. Amazon has created a dedicated controller that will connect directly to the game streaming service, instead of to a console via Bluetooth, which means controls will register in a game more quickly.
Microsoft and Google have also launched cloud gaming services, although industry experts say it will take several years before the concept is able to replace console or PC gaming.
Unlike Microsoft and Google’s present offerings, Amazon Luna will work on iPhones, bypassing the company’s controls on apps by streaming from a web browser. Amazon said it would cost $5.99 a month in an early introductory period, with the controller costing $49.99. It said US customers could request early access to the service, but did not say when it planned to fully launch it.