Let me begin by saying: I love Amazon. Jeff Bezos, if you’re reading this, I want you to make sure you remember that opening gambit as you read on, alright?
You can buy anything you like, it’s all really cheap and, if you’ve got Prime, a purchase on a whim can go from a click on a screen to resting in your grubby little hands in under 24 hours. It’s a modern miracle. Yes, it’s put loads of bookshops out of business and undoubtedly led to the destruction of the high street and the collapse of all the useful social functions that serves and currently stands in a completely dominant position able to screw anyone over at will, but still - 24 hours to get some inflatable frogs delivered? Count me in.
Of course, in 2014 it released its hugely popular Alexa personal assistant which meant that it had a presence inside your house, listening to absolutely everything you did all the time. It’s undoubtedly very cool and maybe even useful but it’s definitely a bit creepy.
But if you thought that was a bit too invasive, get ready for their latest development.
It’s just launched Amazon Key, a system whereby a courier from their delivery service will be able to let themselves into your house to drop off a delivery, all under the watch of a new Amazon Cloud Cam.
The service will be available to Prime customers who have the Cloud Cam and a compatible smartlock (made by Yale and Kwikset) and will see a courier arrive at your door, scan the barcode, which will send a request to Amazon’s cloud, which then contacts the customer, who grants permission by sending a message back to the camera (located in your hallway), which then starts recording. The courier will then be able to unlock the door by using an app on their phone, enabling them to step inside, drop off the package, relock the door via the app and then head off. The customer will then receive a final notification and a copy of the video which was made, showing them that the delivery went just fine.
The camera also works as a standalone security camera, which can respond to voice commands and integrates with other Alexa devices, and is connected to your Wi-Fi, enabling you to operate it remotely.
A forthcoming subscription service also give you the opportunity to archive and review footage and offers features like motion detection, people detection, and zone monitoring.
Amazon Prime customers in the States can preorder the camera from today (cost $120), while the Key app and delivery service will be available from 8 November. The cost of a bundle including smart lock, connected camera and installation will be $249.99. To begin with, it will only operate in the 37 cities across the US where their own Amazon Logistics handle the deliveries. Amazon says that the service will be available on over 10 million items. So that probably includes inflatable frogs.
Really, though, is this not just a little bit terrifying? Handing access to your home to a giant, uncontrollable company who already listens to everything you say (if you have an Alexa), knows everything you watch on TV and knows everything you buy? And, furthermore, will soon be able to watch you coming and going, tracing your movements and working out exactly what your daily routine is?
Or do you have faith that this will merely be another serene step toward technology taking care of everything in your life, leading us to a utopian future?
Allow us to just be a tiny bit apprehensive, at least for now.