Ring, Amazon takes flight with new drone

Courtesy Photo/the Bison

 Amazon releases a new home security drone.

 Ashlee Ginn

Assistant News Editor

On Thursday, Sept. 24, the online shopping giant Amazon made an announcement for a new indoor- only security camera drone set to be released next year.

In cooperation with Ring, originally a doorbell security camera company that is now a subsidiary of Amazon, both of these companies are working together to create a self- travelling drone called the “Always Home Cam” that has a camera built into the base of the drone.

The blades that allow it to fly are encased in a plastic cage to help avoid injuries, as well as aid the sleek design.

 Users do not control the drone, as it is made to follow premade paths set by the user to fly to specific spots around the inside of the home, as well as to only record when dispatched from its dock, which doubles as a charger.

According to Ring president Leila Rouhi in an interview with Megan Wollerton from CNET, “the path is entirely determined by the customer … you actually walk the device around your home and … train it on that path and can set different waypoints for the camera to fly to.”

Rouhi explained why Ring created the drone in an interview with CNN Business, “We know when something happens our customers want to be able to see exactly what’s going on, but it’s not always feasible to have whole-home coverage,” she said.

Some are concerned with how secure their information is with the drone due to a scandal that included Ring sharing users doorbell footage with law enforcement earlier this year.

Since this product will not only be in the homes of users, but also flying without any controller, privacy is an extremely important issue.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation did some research about the information leak, and reported that it was, “packed with third-party trackers sending out a plethora of customers’ personally identifiable information (PII). Four main analytics and marketing companies were discovered to be receiving information such as the names, private IP addresses, mobile network carriers, persistent identifiers, and sensor data on the devices of paying customers.”

Ring announced that this will not be the case with the new product, as the company is adding new features to the Ring app that allow more security for users and blocking most data from being shared with third- party groups. 

They will also be adding a new privacy settings Control Center, and requiring a two- factor authentication when you sign into the app Amazon devices SVP Dave Limp told Dieter Bohn from The Verge in an interview after the product was announced, “I’d be more worried about the camera on your phone than I would be about a drone.”

The product was also made to be noisy so users will know when it is in use, as well as recording.

An Amazon spokesperson referred to this in an interview with CNET as, “Privacy you can hear.”

Some are curious about where the video footage goes, and if they can access it other than the live feed when the drone is activated.

Users can access the recordings by paying for a subscription for one device, priced at $3 per month or a subscription for all their devices priced at $10 per month.

The amount of battery life the drone has is also something of concern.

The drone can fly for up to five minutes, then must return to its charger where it will take at least an hour to be fully recharged.

Rouhi said that the short runtime was intended so that way it is more of a “purpose- driven security camera,” according to CNET.

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