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Put a drone into your home

The Ring drone, just announced and getting ready to fly into our homes, starting in Spring 2021. On the left the drone in its recharging station, on the right taking off to monitor your home. Image credit: Amazon

In its recent announcement, Sept 24th 2020, Amazon revealed a mini drone, Ring Always Home Cam, designed for surveillance of closed environment, specifically designed for our homes. As shown in the photo (left) it looks like a cube with smooth edges, that would fit nicely in any home. That cube is actually a docking/recharging station, the lower, white part, and the drone, the top, black part. On the right side the drone taking off (watch the video for a much better view).

The drone is completely autonomous. It takes off from its docking station and wander inside the home using its camera for surveillance. It can be programmed for surveillance cycles or it can be activated from remote using your smart phone. The camera will also send the images directly to your smartphone or they can be recorded for later perusal.

It might become available in the US by the end of 2020 and more broadly by Spring next year.

Given the present situation of most people staying at home, courtesy of the virus, his drone may not be as attractive as it was supposed to be just a year ago when Amazon announced the intention to develop it, nevertheless it is an interesting gadget at least from a technology point of view:

  • it will be offered at 249$, that is cheap if you consider all the technology it embeds. It flies, of course, but it also learns where to fly and what to look at. By using machine learning and AI/computer vision, the first time it is activated it will fly around your home to get the lay of the land. Based on that it will plan its future flights;
  • it has embedded “intelligence” and it can also leverage on external intelligence provided by the app on the smartphone and from the one embedded in services present in servers in the Amazon cloud;
  • the docking station has got “ears” so that when an unusual sound is detected it will launch the drone to investigate… may be detecting an intruder (2 legs or 4 legs, like a raccoon);
  • it is potentially open, thanks to its web connectivity, to become a multi purpose sensor enabling a variety of services, may be even being able to help me track where I put something…

Its surveillance space is not limited to the inside of the home. If you leave a window open it will be able to take a look outside as well.

There may be privacy issues associated to this kind of device, as with any sensors able to pick up and monitor our lives. Amazon has been quick to illustrate the privacy preserving features and to point out that the drone is noisy, it buzzes, hence you hear it coming…

Anyhow, I am impressed by the technology and its affordability. Whether I will be getting it its a different story.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.