Always Come Home Cam in the Ring – if You’re Invited

Last year on Amazon’s annual hardware fall event, the Ring (owned by Amazon) showcases a drone designed take video inside your home. The Ring doesn’t exactly call it a drone – it’s called the Ring Always Home Cam – but it’s an autonomous flying device with plastic supplies and cameras that record movement. This is a drone. The reaction to it was quick: Why would you want a drone inside your house?

Undeterred by the chorus of “what could go wrong?”, Ring continued forward. Always Home Cam is now available available by invitation, which requires potential customers to apply to gain the ability to purchase it. Last year, the company said it would sell it for $ 250, and it stays at that price. That’s right: For no less than $ 300, you can have a drone buzzing in your head inside your own home.

To hear what Amazon and Ring product execs have to say about this, the drone is designed to ease the burden of carrying multiple cameras to different areas around your home. However, you can simply push a button on the Ring Always Home Cam and send it on a flight to survey the area, or you can program it to detect specific activities in specific time windows — say, in night, while the family slept. It streams the video to your smartphone or tablet, and the clips can be stored for up to 60 days with a subscription fee.

Since we didn’t get our hands on the drone, it’s hard to detail its plot. The ring said it was light, and we knew there were cameras hanging on the bottom of it. An onboard neural processing unit enables the drone to identify a variety of situations, as well as objects inside the home. It has plastic propellers, for safety, and its docking station is designed to block the camera when the drone is in the resting state.

Ring president Leila Rouhi told WIRED the company faces specific challenges in planning to build the drone. This includes “finding out the windows and how the light shines in the windows, mirrors, chandeliers, children, animals-all the same things that are in our homes,” Rouhi says. “There’s no blueprint that’s for everyone.”

The company may be able to address some of the engineering challenges – and will no doubt continue to record based on data shared by “invited” customers – but some advocates for privacy and civil rights express those who -first concern about the drone last year, in which the ring offered some boilerplate statements. Amazon’s head of hardware Dave Limp spoke to that virtual event today that Amazon sees privacy as “a great opportunity for invention.”

Rouhi says a core principle of the Ring is “customer control… and I think over the past few years the Ring has made a lot of money to really live up to that promise and put control in the hands. to our customers. ” Rouhi also pointed out that Ring is launching end-to-end encryption for videos captured by Ring cameras and that Ring Always Home Cam will not be part of the company. controversial law enforcement engagement.

Evan Greer, director of digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future, says the home drone is “still scary”.

“I think there is a growing consensus among civil liberties and digital rights advocates that having these kinds of cameras connected to the internet in your home is less secure, less secure, “said Greer. (Greer did not specify a specific set of data, he later clarified, but made observations.) “The idea that something can fly around your home right now immediately increases the potential for of abuse and the possibility of these devices obtaining footage… From unauthorized persons. ”

Correction on September 28, 2021: An earlier story mistakenly stated that the Always Home Cam had microphones. That’s not right; the device has only one camera.

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