Amazon’s fall showcase included a deluge of new devices and features focused on multiple markets and use cases. So many in fact that trying to compile everything into a succinct wrap-up would be a fool’s errand.
But that doesn’t mean there weren’t substantial offerings from the presentation that deserve a little spotlight. Especially as Amazon leans further into the home security market, tries to stay in step with other companies and wades into the waters of home robotics. Also, Ring Video Doorbells can now notify you when you receive packages!
There were plenty of intriguing and, in some cases, thought provoking items in the presentation, and we’ve got the skinny on all of them.
Obviously the largest curiosity coming out of the presentation was Amazon’s first real entry into home robotics. Meet Astro, the company’s new robotic home assistant whose touchscreen has eyes. Astro compiles a number of features available in other Amazon devices with some handy new additions, including a cup holder.
Its facial recognition software helps identify strangers and uses built-in home security measures, including an extending periscope camera to determine if said strangers pose a threat. It also houses the ability to show real-time video of any room in your house to your mobile device via its companion app.
There is surely more to say about Astro, including if it truly meets Amazon’s promises and its ability to interact with the company’s controversial Ring security devices. But those that are interested in getting in on the ground floor of robot assistants can sign up for an invitation to purchase the $1,000 device when it releases later this year.
Speaking of Ring, it has its own bit of autonomous technology ready for Amazon’s front page. After teasing it last year, Amazon unveiled the Always Home Cam in its current form. Effectively a Ring security camera on a drone, the Always Home Cam automatically deploys from its docking station when its sensors detect sound or movement in your home where it shouldn’t be.
The device has expectedly drawn strong criticism from some, viewing the Always Home Cam as a potential invasion of privacy. That gets compounded when factoring in Ring’s video-sharing agreements with police forces across the nation. Yet there are still some who are interested in a roving security cam flying around their domiciles. They can apply for an invitation to purchase the Always Home Cam for $250.
Taking a step toward the benign and somewhat less science fiction home chic, Amazon announced a new, affordable Smart Thermostat. Its compatibility with Alexa allows it to learn users’ preferences and adjusts the temperature in your home automatically depending on the time of day. Produced through Amazon’s partnership with Residio, the new Smart Thermostat delivers the convenience attributed to smart home devices at a fraction of the cost. It is currently available for pre-order at a breezy $60.
Amazon leapt onto the fitness tech track with the it’s new Fitbit competitor, Halo View. The new fitness tracker has all the trappings the public has come to expect from these kinds of devices (waterproof, color and band options, strong battery life), but it also includes a year subscription to Amazon’s Halo service. That packed-in subscription will come in handy as Amazon announced new additions to Halo, including an Apple Fitness Plus competitor named Halo Fitness and nutrition/calorie tracker called Halo Nutrition. Halo View will be available in Holiday 2021 for $80.
As Amazon continues to build out devices for its smart home future, the company announced two more Echo devices aimed at building out that experience for the entire family. The Echo Show 15 basically wants to be your smart home touch-screen hub mounted to your wall. Users can monitor security cameras, control and monitor various Alexa-enabled smart home devices, stream video and multi-task with a picture-in-picture mode. You can grab one later this year for $250.
The other new device is the Amazon Echo Glow, a video chat and interactivity device designed specifically to encourage interaction between children and their extended family. The Glow combines video calls with interactive games and activities which both participants can play together. Amazon partnered with popular kids brands, including Disney, Nickelodeon, Mattel and Sesame Workshop, to build out the available activities. Those interested can apply to purchase one for $250 through Amazon’s early access program. It will release for $300 when it exits early access.
Let’s complete the surveillance/security sandwich by jumping back to Ring, which announced new additions to its popular home security systems. The Ring Alarm Pro is a new command center for Ring Alarm systems with a built-in Eero Wi-Fi 6 router. The device has a built-in internet backup, meaning your security system will stay online and operational even if your home internet fails. It also includes Ring Edge, which allows users to store video recorded through ring devices on SD cards rather than uploading it to the cloud. However, you’ll need a Ring Protect subscription to use Ring Edge.
The monitoring additions grow even more with Ring’s new Virtual Security Guard service, which lets users allow a third-party company to monitor your Ring cameras with some customization. Users can choose which cameras outside monitors can view at any given time. Virtual Security Guard early access applications are open now and Ring Alarm Pro is available for preorder for $250.
Brian Bell is a queer freelance writer covering tech, pro wrestling, esports, games, comics and TV. Find and follow him on Twitter @WonderboyOTM.