Tech product launches in the year of 2020 involve a kind of perspective whiplash that makes it more difficult than usual to decide whether or not you really need the thing.
There’s the consideration of whether the gadget fits into your life right now, at a time when our needs have changed considerably. There’s also the fact that most of the products launching this year were dreamt up in 2019 or earlier. Back then, tech companies had a different vision of the future in mind, or at least different ideas of what the “lifestyle” images in their 2020 product marketing kits would look like. We all did.
Do you need a fully autonomous surveillance drone for inside your home? At this point I am going to say no. And yet, around fourteen months ago, someone—or someones—at Amazon wrote up a future press release for a multi-camera drone that flies from room to room in your home, surveilling your abode from overhead.
The drone was announced today at Amazon’s annual hardware event, typically a rapid-fire release of new Echo products, Alexa updates, and the occasional gadget oddity, like a talking microwave. Other than this year’s Amazon event being virtual, it was similar to years past. There’s a new orb-shaped Echo speaker, and an Echo Show with a swiveling screen. But it was the Ring drone that stole the show, because it demonstrated just how far Amazon is willing to go to get into every space in your home.
Come Fly With Me
This drone is called the Ring Always Home Cam. (The product is being sold under the Ring brand, which Amazon owns.) I asked Dave Limp, Amazon’s top hardware executive, whether it’s been named that because it is always in your home, or because we are now always home. Limp says it’s more the former, a nod to Ring’s ethos, the notion that it’s there even when you’re not. This noisy whir of techno dystopia can be yours for $249 when it ships later this year.
How you feel about the Ring Always Home Cam probably depends on how you feel about having any Ring camera in your home, because that’s part of the pitch. “The seed was planted by the customers who don’t want cameras in every room for privacy reasons, or because they don’t have power outlets in the right spot, or because they can’t afford a camera in every room,” Limp says. “This seemed like an interesting way to thread the needle a little bit.” (In an interview with The Verge, Ring founder Jamie Siminoff called it an “obvious product that is very hard to build.”)
When any kind of disturbance in your home is detected, the drone will launch from its dock and fly to where the incident is—say, if there’s an intruder, or a racoon, Limp suggests. It’s all part of Amazon’s larger strategy to have its singular products plug in and fly and rotate and simply appear where you need them to be, similar to the way the voice assistant Alexa started to show up, well, everywhere. Amazon’s been at this for awhile now. The drone may be coming from inside the house, but it should also come as no surprise.