Technology

Amazon’s indoor digital camera drone is able to fly round your property

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Amazon unloaded the products of an entire delivery truck at a private event today. Here are some of the many, many smart home products that have been announced.

Attention nest! Amazon is stepping onto Google (and its old thermostat partner Ecobee) with the Amazon Smart Thermostat. Nest thermostats are a circle, so this thing is a square, with the usual touch controls on the front and an app (the Alexa app) for remote control and usage tracking. “Thermostat Hunches” lets Alexa control the thermostat based on your location, and of course there are Alexa voice commands. Amazon partnered with Honeywell spin-off Resideo to develop the thermostat, saying the device will be made “with Honeywell Home Thermostat Technology.” There’s a lot of know-how between Amazon’s Echo Smarts and Honeywell’s thermostat experience.

  • Thermostat from Amazon.

  • The app.

    Amazon

  • How the touch controls work.

    Amazon

  • A cartoon rendering of the wire bracket.

    Amazon

The device costs $ 59.99, and for an additional $ 16, you get a bundle with a C-Wire power supply that you may need if your existing thermostat wiring is not providing enough power. That’s dramatically cheaper than Nest, whose cheapest thermostat is $ 129.99. Amazon also undercuts its largest thermostat partner Ecobee, which ships a thermostat with a full Alexa speaker and microphone built into it, the $ 229.99 Ecobee 4. This is just a thermostat – but wow is it cheap.

Some cameras including this indoor drone camera

  • Amazon really wants you to just fly this drone around their house.

  • Docked and undocked.

    Amazon

  • A mesh at the top and bottom should keep it from chopping off its fingers.

    Amazon

  • The app.

    Amazon

Next up: cameras. Amazon’s crazy indoor flying drone camera – the ambiguous name of “Ring Always Home Cam” – is now on sale in the US. This was announced a full year ago, but is now available “by invitation only” for $ 249.99. This is a “Day 1 Edition” (read: a beta product). So Amazon doesn’t let everyone buy it. You can request an invitation to give Amazon money on the product page.

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As with any other Ring camera, you can remotely access the camera feed through the Ring app. You will get a 1440 × 1440 video feed that you can zoom in on. You can train the drone with custom flight paths by simply holding it in the air and guiding it around the house. There will likely be manual remotes as well, but I have a feeling they will be very limited.

It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot going on in the navigation stack. Amazon states, “If Always Home Cam encounters an unexpected obstacle, it will stop and return to the charging station.” The drone is also limited to a single floor of the house. If you have multiple stories, Amazon recommends multiple drones.

The drone lives in a small dock when it’s not running, and Amazon says it only records video when it’s flying. The dock also covers the camera so it couldn’t record much if it wasn’t flying, even if it wanted to. It has a five-minute flight time before it needs to be charged, and it should automatically dock when you are done with it.

This is a quadcopter, so like any other quadcopter, it’s a bit quieter than a flying chainsaw – but not by much. The announcement video didn’t include a sound recording of the drone, but there is a video on Amazon’s product page indicating how much sound this thing will make. Ring President Leila Rouhi told the BBC last year that the quadcopter not only covers the camera in the dock, but is also “built loud so you can really hear privacy.”

If you have pets, Amazon admits that they “may need time to get used to the sound and movement of Always Home Cam”. If your dog is still scared of the vacuum cleaner, imagine that this vacuum cleaner magically brought to life when you were away from home and flying around the room.

  • The Blink Doorbell Camera.

    Amazon

  • The solar mount for the Blink outdoor camera.

    Amazon

  • The floodlight bracket for the Blink outdoor camera.

    Amazon

There is also a doorbell in other camera news: the Blink Doorbell. For $ 49.99, this doorbell camera offers 30 fps, 1080p video with IR night vision, and two-way audio. It runs on 2.4GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi, and if you don’t want to power it with a doorbell cord, it can use two AA batteries. Like all other Blink cameras, this one should be simple, cheap and compatible with the Amazon Alexa ecosystem. There are some local storage features available through the Blink Sync Module 2, or you can pay a monthly fee for cloud storage.

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There are also two accessories for the Blink outdoor camera: a $ 39.99 Floodlight mount (it adds a motion sensor) and two LEDs (they add 700 lumens of power and motion-activated recording). There’s also a solar panel mount for the Blink outdoor camera for $ 129.98 so you don’t have to rely on the usual AAs. The solar mount has a single “pre-installed” 18650 battery. Whether or not the battery is user-replaceable is unclear, and the battery life is just as vague.

The Ring + eero security system

  • The Ring Alarm Pro base station. It’s so big because it has a battery backup.

  • One of the door / window sensors.

    Amazon

  • The 8-part kit.

    Amazon

One more product before we start: the Ring Alarm Pro. This is a continuation of the Ring Alarm home security system from last year. The main difference is that the Alarm Pro combines two of Amazon’s acquisitions: a ring alarm system and an eero WiFi 6 mesh router. This will wirelessly connect and protect your home to the internet, all in one big box. The starter kit costs $ 299.99 and contains eight items: an Alarm Pro base station, a keyboard, four contact sensors, a motion detector, and an alarm range extender.

The base station seems to be the only difference from last year, with the eero Wi-Fi 6 router functionality being the only new feature. It’s fully compatible with the eero mesh system, so just add another mesh point if you need one. The other widgets continue to use Z-Wave for low-power connectivity. If you have last year’s version of the Ring Alarm and want to upgrade to the Wi-Fi version, it’ll only cost you $ 249 for the base station. The new Alarm Pro will be launched on November 3rd.

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Offer image from Amazon

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