Amazon subsidiary Ring is ramping up its home security offerings with a flying indoor security drone.
Called the Always Home Cam, the device pops up out of its charging dock and flies around a predetermined path when it is triggered by a Ring alarm sensor.
Little information was initially revealed about the device which is set to hit Amazon’s online shopping portal next year, but a promotional clip of the Always Home Cam gives an idea of its intended use.
In the video, an intruder breaks into a home and sets off various Ring security alarms, including the buzzing drone that lifts off to investigate.
The user receives a notification and then watches the drone’s-eye-view from his smartphone as the intruder runs away, seemingly terrified of the small autonomous flying camera.
In a blogpost, Ring founder Jamie Siminoff tried to explain how the personal security camera solves “real problems” of Ring’s customers.
“Something I frequently hear from customers is ‘I have a few Indoor Cams from Ring, but sometimes I would leave the house and couldn’t remember if I’d left a window open and wished I had a camera there,’” he wrote.
“Instead of simply encouraging customers to buy more cameras and set them up in more locations around the home, how could we solve this problem with one solution?
“We wanted to create one camera that could give users the flexibility of every viewpoint they want around the home, while delivering on our founding principles of privacy and security.”
The Always Home Cam cannot be manually flown so users first have to decide on the drone’s various flight paths that it will travel when activated.
Siminoff claimed the lack of individual control over the device was a privacy feature, rather than a limitation designed to stop inexperienced pilots from remotely crashing into televisions, lamps, and windows.
The autonomous device will rely on “obstacle avoidance technology” to help it patrol homes unimpeded.
“Bringing this device to life was no small feat,” Seminoff said.
“We knew we had to invent a completely new type of device that was able to move freely throughout the home to give more viewpoint flexibility.
“To do this, we needed to bring together best-in-class hardware and software technologies to create something no one else had done before and build on a foundation of privacy while moving safely throughout the home.”
Another supposed privacy design feature is the drone’s moderate hum which apparently makes it clear to users when the camera is out and recording.
“This is privacy you can hear,” Siminoff wrote unironically.
Privacy has become a key feature of Ring’s communications this year since hackers and trolls began to use stolen Ring credentials to terrorise people in their own homes.
In one particularly disturbing video, a man’s voice could be heard taunting to an 8-year-old girl through the device in her bedroom.
The company also came under scrutiny when it was discovered that employees had been watching recorded user videos without consent.
Ring has since introduced end-to-end video encryption and enhanced user security settings to try and mitigate creepy and unwanted snooping using its devices.
The Amazon subsidiary has also been criticised for its symbiotic relationship with US law enforcement who can requiest Ring video footage directly from Amazon even when users have denied police access.